Friday, April 11, 2014

Avoiding the Words

By Susan

We all know that anyone who writes is a writer, yet we also know that there are many ways writers avoid sitting down and putting words on the page. Here's a quick list of my favorite distractions and some easy solutions on this lovely Friday morning:

1)   Work. "I need to work, so I can't focus on writing now." This is true—we do need to work. How about today when you take your lunch break you opt to eat outside? Bring a notebook with you and write for twenty minutes. If you can't muster up a few paragraphs, make some observations about your surroundings and write them down. They can be great prompts for later.
2)   Facebook. "I'm just going to see the new baby pictures for my next door neighbor's daughter's third grader teacher's new grandbaby that was born in Alaska that I will never meet in real life. It will only take one minute." We all know this is not true. You will spend two hours on Facebook engaging in arguments and clicking "like" and chatting with a long lost friend. Please. Log off. 
3)   Important Things. "I've got to go the post office and the grocery and drop the dog at the vet. Did you not see my to-do list?" Yes. We all have Important Things. They all get done. But that doesn't mean you can't bring your computer with you. I've been known to edit or revise while sitting in the school parking lot, waiting to pick up a daughter at the end of her school day. Make your writing one of the Important Things, and it will get done.
I drew a bird. 
4)   Draw. "Oh, look. I could draw that bird." Or maybe that's just me?
5)   Read. "I'll just finish this one chapter." That's a lie, but that's okay. I'll always say if I'm not writing, reading is the next best thing.
6)   Clean. "It's Friday/springtime/dusty in here. I can't just sit and write with all of this clutter!" Write one sentence before you pick up that mop. Maybe the sentence will turn into a paragraph, maybe not. But one good sentence is better than none. Make deals with yourself, and stick to them.
7)   Exercise. "But it's beautiful outside! I've been cooped up all winter! I need to run!" I can't fight you on that one…in fact, I'm a huge proponent of exercise as a great breeding ground for new ideas. Just make sure that you translate that thinking time to the page when you return. Focus your monkey mind and allow your creativity to flow while you sweat. Then write it all down.
8)   Tend to Everyone Else. "I simply can't take the time for myself right now. Everyone else needs me." Well. Yes. At times, this is true. But have you ever heard a male writer say this? Not often. We women tend to quickly put the needs of others—children, aging parents, neighbors, even people we don't like—ahead of our own needs. And this also applies to viewing our writing time as a bonus rather than as a necessity. Write as though you have to. After all, don't you?
9)   Wallow. "It's all crap anyway. There's no point." Oh wait, maybe this is just me. The only solution for wallowing is to write anyway. 
10) Research. "I can't write this scene until I understand how a Byzantine soldier would navigate the streets of Constantinople in the year 1242." No. Just no. Research is a fabulous tool, and a necessary one. But don't allow it to usurp your writing time. Set a timer. Research for thirty minutes. And then write.

The most important advice? Stick to it. Hold yourself accountable. And so for me, on this lovely warm spring day, I'm off to write on my patio, thankful for the words, opportunity, and time to do what I love. I suggest you do the same. Happy Friday!

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