What to do When Summer Interrupts Your Writing
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The warmest weather is here, the kids are out of school, the grandchildren are under foot; how are you supposed to find the time to write that important article or the next chapter in you manuscript? Perhaps you have notes from when you were awakened in the middle of the night with an excellent scene running amok throughout your brain. And you even managed to turn on the light and write it down; now the question is with all of these distractions, are you going to balance the time and write?
“But I want to plant pretty flowers and there’s the kids and the grandkids…”
There never seem to be enough hours in the day. We have our household duties to do, laundry, dishes, etc. Then there’s the external distractions that interfere with our writing, including surfing the Internet, reaching that next elusive level in Candy Crush, doing some online shopping, checking your cell phone for messages and/or texting, getting on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And of course, getting the kids off to their activities and babysitting those grandkids. Whatever the reason, it keeps you from writing.
Is it impossible to do it all? Not really. When my daughter was born, I was a stay-at-home mom. When my husband would come home from work, he would spend time with her, which would allow me time to get things done that I could not do while taking care of her. It worked out well. Of course, some husbands may not be wonderful and want to do that, but mine was! My parents were also helpful. They adored their granddaughter so when we would visit them, I would use that time to do something that I needed to do.
Spring and Summer can be Especially Distracting
The warm weather, bright sunshine. I love being outside and planting the petunias my hummingbirds love. I enjoy sitting on the porch in the swing reading and writing. My daughter is an adult now, so I don’t have babysitting problems. However, when I am outside and I am writing on my laptop, I tend to concentrate on what I am doing and not paying attention to traffic or people, and the neighbors will come out of their house and start a conversation and me. Not wanting to be rude, I’ll talk to them, but in all reality, all I want is to get back to work, and there’s my distraction – if only temporarily.
If you are outside enjoying the beautiful weather or are at the beach and do not have your laptop handy, try using a voice recorder. You can say what you want into the recorder and later when you have the time you can type the content onto your computer.
“I can’t concentrate…my mind wants to wander off.”
Internal distractions happen to all of us at one time or another. We have no outside distractions, but our minds won’t shut down. It spins and turns with all sorts of thoughts that can’t be ignored. Perhaps you feel restless or don’t know which WIP (work in progress) to work on. Most of us writers have several projects going at once, making it difficult to choose. I usually like to work on my current one. However, the characters in another novel sometimes become active and begin talking, or an idea will come to me and I‘ll just have to work on that novel instead.
Do your research first.
Take notes, either on your computer or on a notepad. Once your research is completed and I know you are not going to like this but do it anyway – TURN OFF THE INTERNET! It won’t kill you for a few hours or more. Remember we used to NOT have a thing called Internet. There are writing apps, such as Writeroom for Mac. If you have a PC, use Dark Room. These programs are for writing text only so you have no choice but to write and keep writing.
Shut down all of your other programs.
Don’t be tempted to play your favorite game to get off that hard level. Stay focused! Keep writing. If you have a habit of having the television on just to hear it, don’t – turn it off; otherwise you may be tempted to watch something and there goes the writing. And as for Facebook and other social media, I limit my time when I have writing goals. Sure, I may pop in briefly, but I’m only taking a brief break from work.
Make sure your desk is free of clutter, or almost free of clutter. I have notes and notepads on my desk with important information on them so I can have easy access to them. If I were to move those, I would be at a loss.
Shut off your phone.
Cell phones can be a distraction so turned off that phone or at least put it on silent. The world will not end by turning your phone off. In fact, I keep my cell phone turned off in the mornings and do not turn it on until 2 P.M.. That gives me the time to have my work completed and no distractions from my phone.
If you have family around the house while you are working, let them know not to disturb you unless there is an emergency.
And above all, just write. You can edit later.
Taking Breaks Can Boost your Focus
Remember to take breaks. This could be every fifteen minutes or every few hours. It may seem counterintuitive, but make sure you do. That way, you won’t become overwhelmed and too tired. I sometimes write for three-four hours at a time, then stop for a couple of hours then go back to writing. Taking that break helps keep me from getting bored with writing and keeps me alert as to what is happening in the story.
“One final note…”
Above all of these helpful hints and advice, remember this important thing: do not stress. Stress only makes matters worse. You will find you won’t be as productive and you will make mistakes in your work. And remember to enjoy yourself – it’s summer! I personally can’t think of anything better than that. In fact, being outside gets my creativity flowing even more. More novels means happier fans!
Barbara Tyree is the author of the newly published mystery/thriller novel Dangerous Liaisons. Find out more from the blog tour. She is in the process of perfecting the final drafts of three other novels, including the sequel to Dangerous Liaisons.
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