It’s very hard to write when you’re distracted.
For me, pieces flow out in one long deluge, so when other thoughts interrupt, it makes for disjointed writing. It also makes writing feel like a chore instead of an outlet.
I sat down to write this post multiple times over the last week or so. Each time, I had some wonderful gem ready to shine, but once I began typing, my thoughts were hijacked by worries about the cancelation of pretty much everything, especially events that were important to my high school senior.
I start to write and then find my mind wandering to my foster dog beside me or hear the one in the kitchen howling and I wonder what else I could be doing to rescue dogs, especially now that rescues are canceling transports (not ours!), shelters are closing to adoptions and dogs continue to wash up at their doors.
Even now, you probably still have no idea what I’m writing about because I keep interrupting myself.
My original intent, five days ago now, was to write about the commitment it takes to see a writing project through despite distractions. That commitment is the difference between the people who get published and the people who have a great idea for a book.
How many of us have unfinished projects lying around our house or our hard drive? This enforced home-time is providing plenty of time to address them. My husband tore up the carpet in our living room and is using his time to install a new hardwood floor.
He ordered spark plugs online and plans to tune up his car. I’m hoping to finish a few things too—a scrapbook for my high school senior, sifting through the accumulated mess in too many closets, and doing the final edits on my novel that comes out next January.
I did manage to finish one project – creating a designated cat area for the foster cats who are still here six months later despite my best efforts to get them adopted. (It’ll be much better once all the living room furniture is moved out of my office.)
The novel is the next task most likely to be finished because that editing project has a deadline (May 1).
I love deadlines. They’re empowering.
Most people who want to write a book, have no deadlines. They have ideas, best intentions, piles of hope, and maybe even hundreds of pages of story. What they need is a deadline. Without one, there is no pressure and no motivation when you get to the sticky parts.
I’ve got several of those fallow deadline-less manuscripts on my computer. One is abandoned about two-thirds of the way in because it got hard to see my way to the ending. The other is finished but requires an entire overhaul at the behest of my agent who feels certain she can’t sell it the way it is. Alas, though, she gave me no deadline. So it sits gathering dust or whatever it gathers when it sinks further and further down the ‘recently opened’ list in the start screen.
If you’ve got a writing project languishing in your life, now might be the perfect time to tackle it. You’ve likely got lots of time with yourself to spare. Maybe something good could come of this, maybe your writing career will find firmer footing. After all, every writer’s challenge is finding the time, and that’s all we seem to have plenty of (certainly not toilet paper or fresh vegetables, at least at this house).
If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo.org, you might want to look it up. They provide community, incentives, and support to help you get your story on the page (and it’s free!).
And if you need a deadline, I’d be happy to give you one. Seriously. Send me an email, tell me your project status, and I’ll give you a date to finish. Maybe that’s all it will take to tamp down the distractions and get to work.
Thanks for being my latest distraction, but now I’ve got to get back to agonizing over tiny details that matter more to a reader than a writer. I’ve got a deadline to meet!
Onward my writing friends!
Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.
If you’re curious about what I’m up to, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.
If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.
COMING JULY 2020 from Pegasus books (available for preorder):
Find out more about fostering dogs at AnotherGoodDog.org!