where the writers are
Dealing with Distractions

A writer who was having too many family distractions asked me, "Have you ever just had to get away somewhere to write?"

Yes, I would say my best writing happens when I take some time off and go on a brief writing sabbatical. Anywhere from a three-day weekend to five days, whatever time I can afford to take off from my business. I have a friend's cabin in the woods I escape to. Or I housesit for people who are traveling. If I can afford to rent a room somewhere, then I'll do that, too. The investment in myself is well worth it. Other places to escape to are the library, coffee shops, a friend's house while they are out. As a writer it is important to create a space of solitude to write. I have lived with roommates and I have lived with a girlfriend and her children. I told them that writing is part of my career, and they have given me space to write in my office without disturbing me. They know that when I leave for a few days to write, it is because getting my book done is important. When there are a lot of family activities going on that make writing difficult during the day and evening, I wait until everyone's asleep and write then, either staying up till 2:00 a.m. or getting up at 5:00 a.m. I prefer mornings, because I'm most creative after waking up. With 3-4 hours of focused writing, I can really move my story along.

What do you do when you get stuck, I mean really stuck and can't seem to push through?If you are feeling stuck, then the best thing to do is take some kind of action--ask a family member to take over your responsibilities for a few days and get away to write. If you are constantly sacrificing your needs for others, then you run the risk of being a martyr. And this doesn't help anybody. It creates an unspoken tension for everyone in the house. Your needs are just as important as your family's. If you truly are a writer, and publishing novels is your dream, then you making time to write is just as important as everything else you do. Share your goals with your family. Hopefully they will be supportive and give you the space or help to write. Even if not everyone supports your choice to make time for yourself to write, then that's okay. Give yourself time to write anyway. Every writer who has responsibility to other people deals with this challenge. The writers who succeed at finishing books, publishing, and building a career out of writing novels know that sometimes being selfish is okay. Writers have to be somewhat selfish to achieve writing books. Successful writers give blocks of time and attention to their loved ones and blocks of time and attention to their writing. Think of your book as just another child who needs your love and attention.

If you can enroll some help from a family member or friend, I highly recommend you get away from your current situation so you can breathe and get your book written. You will feel much better about yourself, your book, your life, and your career, and you will return to your loved ones feeling renewed and appreciative.

Brian Moreland is a published author who offers professional coaching to writers. Check out his services at http://www.brianmoreland.com/

6 Comment count
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I have a question for you?

I have a question for you? What happens if the kind of family distractions are not external noises like children playing or romping around but the internal kind that sticks within you and rubs you uncomfortably and you can't seem to shake it off at that moment? You want it out of your system because you know it distracts that peaceful state within that makes you want to write?

I'd like to think that professional writers too have internal disturbances -- what do you to not let it get in the way of your writing?

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Great question, Rina,

Honestly, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't have something internal pulling at me to do this or do that instead of sit at my computer and write. I have a few approaches in handling these gremlins. First, I meditate and see if all I need to do is quiet the mind for a little bit. If there's something that really has to be done, like pay bills that day or do a task for someone, then I'll take care of business.

I've gotten in the habit of dedicating a block of hours early in the morning to write. I usually get up before everyone in the house. It's too early to call anyone and no one calls me (because I turn off the phone.) So I have peace and quiet in which to work, and I don't feel obligated to talk to anybody or do anything for anyone. It's 100% Me Time.

During my morning hours (5:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.) there's very little to distract me. All the business that I need to take care of that day can be handled after 8:00 or noon, depending how long my writing schedule is that day. If there's still too many nagging thoughts breaking my concentration, I'll go back to meditating or do some yoga. It's all just mental noise anyway, and breathing and stretching quiets things down. The key is training your brain to be a habitual writer, so that when it's time to sit down and write you can focus and get into the zone. If someone can't focus at all, then I would recommend getting coaching from a personal coach trained in Nuero Linguistic Programming (NLP). I'd have them guide me through some closed-eye exercises that help your mind create more resources around being focused and more relaxed when the time comes for you to sit down and write. Productivity is all about getting yourself into a zen state.

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Rina, I hope that helps.

Rina, I hope that helps.

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Thanks Brian, this helps a

Thanks Brian, this helps a lot!  They sure are gremlins that bog me down worse on some days than others.  Like you, I have good quality quiet time early mornings... what I need to remember is to not these gremlins wreck my state of being and find a way to release that energy .  Thanks for  the advise!

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You're welcome, Rina.

You're welcome, Rina. Remember not feed the gremlins after midnight. And never get them wet.

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ahhhh those cackling

ahhhh those cackling gremlins! I guess I need to lighten up and not get so consumed when I hear their chattering! otherwise I am only feeding them more and getting them wet and then they explode and multiply inside of me! Gremlins! That's a good one! :-)