I write almost every day. Writing is the only way that I’ve figured out how to get my charming friends who live in my head to come into the world and play without making me look like a crazy person. I don’t always write well, but I write easily.
I also get distracted easily.
The happy distractions are things that I love to do, like watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. I expand my Pinterest boards and plan menus for my next five dinner parties. I start daydreaming about tasty new things to add to my next loaf of bread, and suddenly, I am up to my elbows in flour.
I have to take some pretty intense precautions to avoid happy distractions. Because writing is the first thing I do in the morning after the coffee has been brewed, Operation Focus starts the night before. Before I go to bed, I unplug the TV. I make breakfast (or bread) the night before. I write all my first drafts by hand because I am less likely to sink into the abyss of the Internet if the computer is across the room.
The sneaky distractions are the ones that I would never expect my mind to register as good ideas.
The sneaky distractions are not my favorite pastimes. They’re often chores, like deep cleaning the floorboards or attending an exercise class, which I usually try to find any excuse to avoid. As soon as I make plans to spend an entire decadent day writing, though, the voices in my head that sound freakishly similar to my mother and junior high gym teacher start making a list of things that need to be done. Soon, I have compiled a to-do list that would take four full days to complete.
I used to ignore this list. I would spend the whole day writing, determined to stick to my plan. I was writing drivel, though, because I also spent the whole day plagued by the list in my head of all the things that weren’t getting done. My floorboards judged me. Not giving in to my distractions became a distraction itself.
So I tried something desperate. I gave in. I picked one task from the list, and by the time it was finished, I had lost all motivation to do the rest of the list, I had an oft-neglected chore done, and I had ironed out some plot lines in my head, which gave my writing day a nice jumpstart!
For now, I write almost every day. As I learn to handle distractions (both happy and sneaky ones) better, I hope to make writing an everyday pleasure.
Suzanne Terry is a fiction writer, public speaking teacher, and unapologetic coffee snob. She lives in Denton, Texas, where she is happy to be surrounded by college students, coffee shops, and farmers’ markets. She blogs sporadically at http://coffeesnob318.wordpress.com/.