P. D. Wright

Wrighting Blog

Things that Distract me from Writing

I have thousands of ideas. They jump at me from everywhere I look, every person I meet, every night I dream (last night I dreamt that finishing a dissertation in economics involved fighting off a demon invasion; the core plot of the dream was preposterous – everyone knows it’s the Actuaries who fight evil – but there were some amazing and usable concepts involved).

Since I consider myself a creative person, it seems to me that I should have written hundreds of novels or short stories by now. So why haven’t I? I can answer in one word: distractions. All sorts of big or small things that steal my time, leaving me writingless (if you’ll forgive me making up a word). There are honestly hundreds of things that could distract me at any moment, but the following are the five worst offenders:

  1. A messy workspace. I have a tidy house – in the public rooms, at least. My private rooms (my bedroom, and to a lesser extent, my bathroom) are a different story. I have books piled near the head of my bed waiting for reading, a few odd pieces of clothing that haven’t made it into the drawer or hamper somehow, a box of Kleenex for my allergies, and piles of papers on and around my desk, all containing edits from my friends at FSFW that still need implementation (or at times, just need to be filed away). Usually I can work around it, but when the mess reaches critical, I have to abandon all else and start organizing.
  2. Solitaire style computer games. I stop playing Spider Solitaire and start on Mine Sweeper, I stop Mine Sweeper and begin playing Mahjong, and so on. These games are a waste of my writing time, but I STILL manage to convince myself that “I’ll just play one game.” Sixty games in and an hour later, I’m still stuck.
  3. Work. You’d think my boss paid me or something, the way I can’t get any writing done during work.
  4. TV. I’m not talking about cool and necessary shows that are worth watching every week no matter what, I mean stupid reality shows about who can hop on one foot for the longest time, or mindless reruns of the same terrible sitcoms over and over again. I swear, the TV goes on and my brain goes off.
  5. Reading. Reading is a vital part of being a writer, but it’s very hard to put a book down. I can’t write with my eyes glued to a book – it’s a shortcoming I’m working on fixing. Does anyone know where I can get an extra set of eyes?

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Comments

8 Responses to “Things that Distract me from Writing”

  1. allie says:

    My place was always cleanest during finals (at college). I am enjoying your blog. Keep writing!

  2. David Oliver says:

    So many things to comment…so little time….

    First, I have always considered myself a fairly creative person and have dreamed of being a professional writer for as long as I can remember. Having said all that I must admit that I had to learn to accept the sad truth that all my creative endeavors will never show as much creative spontaneity as just one of your dreams. I mean, pizza delivery guy by day- guerrilla leader working to overthrow an alien invasion by night… who can top that? :)

    Second, don’t worry about making up new words; a disturbing amount of our words are actually the creation of writers whose work launched them into the cultural mass consciousness. This goes beyond the full and semi-techno jargon one might expect from science fiction, like cyber, but also includes a great many common use words as well, such as: critical, monumental, radiance, summit, dwindle, frugal, fretful, hurry, lonely and countless others. In fact countless was created by a writer as well. (Of course, all of the above examples with the exception of cyber was created by Shakespere, but these words were in whole his creation along with almost 1700 others, and he is just one of many writers who have added to our language.) Making up new words and using them with confidence is one of the joys of being a writer.

    Third, It pains me to admit it but I understand all to well the nature of distractions and how they work to keep me from completing my own stories. There are games I have played so much, for example, that if I dedicated all that time to writing I could have probably written a couple of extra novels by now, and I share in every one of your listed distractions. (Of course the distraction of my wonderful girlfriend is a welcome distraction any time….) It is easy to fret over lost time and mourn the loss of stories that will never come to be, but I believe that such distractions are critical to a writer. I believe that if somebody did not have distractions in their lives than they would burn out and their writing would suffer. Distractions are another word for variability in one’s life, and variability is a strong source of inspiration. In addition, I am sure that everybody has experience watching a random show on TV, or playing around a random site on the internet, or reading a random book before suddenly realizing that they know how to tackle a new part of their story, or perhaps an idea to start a new one. I suppose all things in moderation, but I welcome distractions, at least until I have a deadline.

    This was a good post and I think it will help writers to realize the distractions in their lives and how these distractions help and hinder their writing. I look forward to reading what you post next.

  3. roh says:

    Distractions from writing…that would be ‘real life.’

    I’m endlessly frustrated over the demands placed on my time that prevent me from writing.

    But I think I’ll spare you my rant and save it for my blog…

  4. My entire life distracts me… although if I didn’t have to work, that would help a TON!

  5. pdwright says:

    You’re right – summing up the biggest distraction is easy: “real life.” Though, I don’t mind all real life distractions (*ahem* the biggest of which is my boyfriend), whereas 4 of the 5 on my list are things I get annoyed at when I get caught up in them. The other one – work – is inevitable.

  6. Yikes!! We’re so alike! I could have written this post, LOL. Except, I don’t watch television during the day (my writing time is when hubby’s at work and the kids are at school) — thank goodness for TiVo! And, I don’t work out of the home — however, housecleaning is my responsibility according to the plan hubs and I created together years ago, and I’ve been known to clean out a drawer instead of work on my WiP. I combat myself by setting daily writing goals and making myself reach them. …Some days are less successful than others…

    Great post!

  7. Oh, wow – I can so relate! I’m a freelancer who works from home and, lemme tell you, if there’s a stray sock on the living room floor or the Leaning Tower of Jumble on the kitchen counter gets too high, I can’t work. I just–can’t. So I find myself tidying it up instead of focusing on either my freelance project at hand or my WIP. Anyway, just found your blog. Great post! Do you have a Follower widget you can include so people can keep track of your blog?

  8. I’ve managed to beat the television distraction, and now that Mafia Wars is gone from my Facebook screen, I don’t waste more than a couple hours a week on computer games. I don’t really mind a messy workspace; in fact, I think I thrive more when the papers are piled too high to see the gathering dust. Reading is a huge distraction, but I try to manage it. However, the bigest distractions are work, family, shopping, chores, and the worst of them all… driving – I am a commuter.

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