Distraction, Mistraction, Untraction, Alack-tion

Since a couple of writers whose advice I generally follow have posted on the nature of distraction (and because I’ve made my wordcount for the day), I’m going to chime in here.

Believe me, I understand the irony of writing a distracting blog entry about how to resist distractions.  I prefer to think of it as cruelty rather than blatant ignorance.

Everyone seems to be talking about trying to stay focused and disciplined.  I know, I know the temptation of abandoning the slog of one word after another, because it’s just too hard sometimes.  But I suspect staying motivated as a writer is one of those paradoxes of life, like “Love is the best” and “Love is the worst.”

“Writers have to stay focused.”  “Writers have to stay distracted.”

Here’s my logic:

  • All writers have to live with distractions.
  • Defeating a distraction is distracting.
  • When it’s more interesting to do the dishes than write, perhaps your brain is trying to tell you something.
  • Writing should be more fun than doing the dishes; if you’re not having fun, why would anyone else?
  • Maybe your brain is trying to tell you something, like, “I’m bored” or “I’m tired” or “I’m hungry” or “I don’t have faith in this whole writer thing.”
  • Maybe your brain is looking for something.
  • Maybe you’re getting in the way of finding what it is, by strangling your distractions.
  • Maybe you’re just about to daydream.
  • Maybe daydreaming is why you wanted to be a writer in the first place.
  • Maybe your distractions are opportunities to daydream.
  • And come up with something that will make you want to write.
  • So don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg by being too disciplined.
  • Play.

You enjoy this.  Don’t forget.


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  1. You speak sooth, lady. Well done.

    I need to think a little about why I’ve got lots of ideas for blog posts and kind of stare at the screen when it comes time to work on the story — why I always want to write the blog /first/.


  2. I’m definitely all about the daydreaming, and I find it critical — talking walks, talking showers, even blowing leaves are all times when I can daydream.

    So, I think that kind of distraction is good. Necessary, even, as you say.

    But when it’s time to write, it’s time to write. Even when you don’t feel up for it. That’s the rub. I don’t think there’s anything psychologically complicated about it, and I don’t think it indicates a lack of interest in writing or a loss of enjoyment — but a writer can enjoy writing in general without enjoying each day of writing.

    — c.

    • De

      Yep. I didn’t mean to say that there didn’t need to be discipline, but that it was a paradox, that both discipline and distraction have to be respected.

      Notice – I didn’t write the blog post until wordcount was achieved 🙂

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