Distractions, Distractions!

February 12, 2010 at 4:51 am | Posted in Writing and Life | 1 Comment

What is it about writing that makes it so hard for me to get going? I really want to get into my short stories, my novel, my blog. Sometimes, words just flow. I write a letter, a blog entry, a story in no time. But, too often, I can’t even make myself type the first word.

So many other things seem to be more important at the time. The housework needs doing and medical appointments have to be kept – more of those in the last year or so. Meals must be prepared and eaten. There is morning tea and afternoon tea, and a cuppa before bed, the bills to pay, the business recording to do, shopping to see to. The desk is a mess, so I must sort it out. Oh, and I must make phone calls to my father, to my five sons, to my brothers, sisters, friends.

I have three books from the library too – I mustn’t take too long to read those. When I start the computer and go online, I have to check my email and answer some. If it’s my writing group, there may also be some organisation to do. My webpage opens to the ABC (Australia) news site, so I catch up on what’s happening at home and abroad. Then I log on to Facebook to see what my friends are up to. That takes time, especially if I start a chat with one of them. From there it’s across to Writing.com, for emails, newsletters and blogs.

I go to my writing folder and open the document I have been working on. At the moment, it is chapter two of my latest novel. I look at it, read it over, change a word or punctuation here or there, then just sit. I know what’s to come next but I cannot make myself write it. Eventually, I may get down a sentence or two, but it doesn’t flow. In frustration, I turn to a game of Spider Solitaire. Perhaps that will relax me and I will be able to write something. But no, nothing comes, and half an hour goes by with nothing done. I get up in disgust at myself and go to the kitchen for a cup of tea or glass of water. Why can’t I write?

Even as I’m writing this, my husband comes in to ask what I want to do this weekend. As the council is having a large item rubbish pickup in a couple of days, I said I want to get our junk out to the kerb for collection. He said he’d like to sort it now, so I went down to the garage with him. As he’s recuperating from a recent heart attack, he can’t do much, so I did the sorting, then carrying wheeling out all the big stuff – in a temperature of 40°celcius (104°F)!

All right, I should have said I’d do it later when it’s cooler, and kept on with my writing. But I didn’t. I often don’t say no to distractions when I’m writing. So what does that say about me and about my attitude to writing? I know I want to write. I know I can write, so there has to be something else. Well, I’ve been thinking about it now for quite some time, and I believe I know the answer.

I am afraid. I am afraid that what I write won’t be good enough. Afraid to just let go and write sub-standard stuff and come back to fix it up later. Every paragraph, every chapter, must be at least almost perfect before I go on to the next. At those times, when my confidence is low, the fear paralyses me, and I can’t just write. I try to overcome it but my determination isn’t strong enough. Everywhere, I read that I should just write and words will come, but I can’t even do entries in my hand-written journal at such times.

How do I make myself overcome this paralysis and stop being so easily distracted? If anyone out there has answers, I’d love to hear/read them.

© Linda Visman, 12th February, 2010


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  1. Fear – I have it too, and like you I will cast around and find any excuse not to write. I’ve recently started trying to allocate myself an hour or so just to writing, with no distractions. And it seems to help… although I’ve only done it a couple of times this month when I have applied myself it’s resulted in a good few hundred words each time.

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