Saturday, June 18, 2011

Distraction

Originally published on my website on 2/24/11 (www.lisalregan.com)

A lot of writers complain that they get distracted from their writing by other things in their lives—loved ones, household chores, email, television—and I’ve been distracted from my writing by all of those things. But for the most part, I find myself in the exact opposite predicament. I’m distracted from all of those things BY my writing. My head is always in my book, in something I am working on. Recently, my significant other complained that I seem distracted all the time. “Maybe your head is in your book,” he said, “I don’t know.” He was right.

Right now I’m working on a revision of Aberration that has been far more challenging than I anticipated. I am enjoying it immensely now that I know what direction I’m going in but still, it is not going as quickly or as easily as I would like. So my mind is constantly consumed by the book—testing all the possibilities of what I might do in this chapter or that chapter; what I might cut or keep; how I might change the end; where I can cut words. I’m always in my book.

I also have a work-in-progress (tentatively titled “Paper Dolls”) that I will return to once the revision is done and lately I’ve been toying with taking some elements from my first adult novel (which is currently in residence under my bed because it stinks) and creating a whole new story with them. Again, my head is always in “the book”.

Also because I have a busy life with a full-time job and a family at home, I have to steal my writing time. Fifteen minutes here, a half hour there if I’m lucky. A great deal of my mental energy throughout the day is spent trying to figure out where exactly in my day I can squeak out a few paragraphs or a few minutes to work on the book.

So yes, I’m quite distracted.

I read Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett recently and in it she talks about writers who say they are “addicted” to writing. She says that in most cases, these writers are not truly addicted. When you’re addicted to something, you think about it all the time and do it every chance you get. If you only write when you have time and struggle to write even then, you can’t really be addicted to writing. I think I’m addicted. I never thought of it that way but it makes sense. If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about it. Although sometimes when I pick up my pen, writing feels awkward and difficult, I never hesitate to actually do it. I can always come up with something, no matter how crappy it might be! Besides that, if I had a nickel for every little revision I’ve had to make on my books I wouldn’t need a job, I’d be filthy rich so I never worry about what kind of crap comes out the first time—I’m going to have to make it better later anyway!

So I thought how can I make time for my writing and not be so distracted when I am with my family—because they are fabulous and they deserve every ounce of my attention when I am with them. Well I’ve never been a morning person but I decided to try what many writers do which is get up early and write before the day even starts. Now I’ve tried to do this in the past with exercise. I thought I’ll just get up an hour earlier, do some exercise and get it out of the way.

Yeah, right.

I could not get my ass out of bed, especially for exercise. Hello, snooze button! But I thought if I want to give some real, dedicated time to my writing and be a better partner and mother, I should try this. I’ve read about so many writers who get up one or two hours earlier than they need to in order to write. So I tried it last week. Although I was exhausted—again, I am NOT a morning person by any stretch of the imagination—I felt better last week than I have in a long, long time. I got so much done on my revision and for the rest of the day I did not feel distracted. It was fabulous. I love how quiet and still everything is—how few distractions there are, how none of my attention is required elsewhere. No multi-tasking. Just writing for a whole hour and a half.

Of course then my entire family got the flu so Operation Write In the A.M. is now on hold until the siege of illness is over but I hope that in the future I’ll be able to continue. I would love to see how much more I could produce if I have dedicated writing time.

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