Oh, the Distractions!

A recent study came out comparing the quality of writing by people who were allowed to work uninterrupted vs. those where were interrupted every few minutes. It’s not surprising that those who were able to work without distractions did much better than those who were distracted.

I could have saved them a lot of money.

The majority of my writing time happens when there are small people in the house. Despite their best intentions and all my efforts to keep them entertained with projects and games, they still come to me every few minutes.  Even when they don’t come to me I have to keep my ears open and listening for sounds of destruction or distress.

Needless to say, I’m a distracted writer.  It is very rare when I have the house to myself, so rare in fact that it takes time to adjust.  The silence is jarring. I continue to listen for problems to be solved, even though there is no one home. This time is vital to work through difficult scenes that require focus, but no matter how much it doesn’t make sense, part of me feels there is something wrong.

It gets worse.  Even without the kids around there will always be email, Facebook, Pandora, and Pinterest just one click away.  While I do turn notifications off, the temptation is always there, especially if I’m working on something that’s hard.  A small break can easily turn into a dive into the rabbit hole of social media that can last anywhere between 5 minutes to the rest of the evening.

Is removing distractions a good idea? Yes.

Is it possible? Yes, but it’s tough.

Now let’s go see what’s on Facebook… 🙂

My Distractions are Bigger Than Yours

For all those who are anxiously waiting for another episode of Mike Finnegan, I apologize. He will be making his next appearance next Friday when I have had time to write another episode.  For now, I only have time and energy for a brief update.

I’ve had my novel on my mind constantly these last few weeks and it’s been driving me crazy that I haven’t had any significant undisturbed time to really dig in and build up my characters.  It’s not that I can’t work with the little ones around, I can.  It’s just that the quality suffers.  I read through a few passages that I’d written while being besieged with requests and even physically pulled away from the keyboard every few minutes and found that although the writing is okay, the characterization really suffers.  When I can’t focus, I can’t get inside my character’s heads and live the scene through their eyes.  And for me, one of the most vital requirements of a great book is that the reader feel fully immersed in the characters.

For first drafts this isn’t as big of problem, but now I’m deep into near final drafts where I’m trying to hone and refine all the different aspects of the story, the inability to find that laser focus and actually work on it is driving me crazy. I’ve played with the idea of starting a small contest called “My Distractions are Bigger than Yours” and feature pictures and videos of all the crazy things that happen when people are trying to work.

This would be the first submission –

Creepy Baby HandYes, that’s a hand reaching through my desk and touching my screen. At least she can’t reach the monitor power button from there, the hand itself is distracting enough, having the screen turn off and on would be the last straw.  Sometimes I keep goodies like jelly beans that I can offer the hand, sometimes the hand brings me gifts like small toys.

On rare occasions I get dual hands, there is a second hole in my desk on the other side meant for cables and baby D will come and play along.  Sometimes the hands want to play catch with each other and get angry when it doesn’t work.

Where there are little hands there are also little bodies trying to sit on my feet.  The way this is going I’m not going to finish the book until my youngest starts going to school!

What are your worst distractions?