Spazzy Brain, AKA Writing Distractions

As an author, we need to be able to sit down and write during our carved out writing times, but sometimes this is the hardest part of our job. It's made even more complicated when you are a parent, working multiple jobs, live with family, or have a dozen other things going on. So how do you handle it?

Short answer? You don’t. There are times I’ve been frustrated to tears because it seems like the entire universe is working against me and my goals. Other days I’m able to write what I needed to get done with ease. There’s just no in-between. There are some tips to help that I’ve found, however, and I’ll share them below. They may help, they may not. It honestly depends on the day and how determined your or your distractions are. Results may vary lol

Kids/Pets- I’m putting these together as well, they’re kind of the same types of annoyances, really. Before you start writing, get them fed and watered. Take them outside, to the park or even just the backyard. Let them run some energy out. Once tired out, or at the very least, slightly less excited- put on some background noise. Be it a TV show they like, a movie they’ll always watch, the Pets channel, whatever works. Give them a distraction. If all else fails? Bribe ’em. Money and sweets work great for kids. The “Quiet Game” can be utilized for peace for a half hour or so, but after that, it stops working. For animals, treats or letting them up on the furniture to lay with you seems to help the most. Just let them be ‘with’ you while you’re working, and they tend to settle down.

Family/Friends- Invest in headphones. Seriously. Get the best you can afford. Find music that doesn’t bother you while writing. You will never get your entire house to be quiet while you’re writing. It just doesn’t happen. Even if you live alone, the road noise, neighbors, trains… everything can be a distraction if you let it. Headphones help so much. Of course, there are days I still get my family waving at me insistently from across the room while I’m trying to finish a scene. This takes me immediately out of it and frustrates me to no end. Unfortunately, it can’t be helped. Deal with whatever it is as quickly as possible and attempt to get back into the groove you were in. I will announce it. “I am going to be writing for the rest of the day. You have THIRTY MINUTES to ask me to do or answer any thing you need today. Otherwise, I am NOT AVAILABLE.” Does it work? Sometimes. Other times, you just gotta hold back the frustrated tears and deal with it, it comes with being part of a family.

Work/Freelancing- This is one where you’re either stuck, or you need to be a bitch. If you have a boss, you have to do what you need to do to keep your job. If this cuts into writing time, well, the paying job comes first until your writing will make enough money to support yourself and your family. You’ll just have to work around it. If you’re a freelancer and can make your own schedule, do that. I’m trying, but I’m still running into issues. I’ve set aside Monday’s as blog days and Tues/Weds as writing days. Technically, I don’t get online until those things are done.

Sadly, I haven’t done very well at it. When people message me with questions, I feel like I have to answer them right away, and then I get distracted and ‘into’ that and never get back to my writing, or end up doing something else for work instead of focusing on what I needed to. This is frustrating and tiring, and leaves me exhausted and uninspired. Take it from me- guard your writing time and schedule as best as you can. Don’t make a habit of breaking it, otherwise people will assume that your set schedule isn’t ‘really’ a set schedule. If you say you’re not going to be online until you finish x/y/z, then don’t be. Nothing is such an emergency that it can’t wait a few hours. I have to learn to understand this as well, so it’s a work in progress. 🙂

Physical Needs- Well, this one is kind of unavoidable. We can’t just ‘not eat’, though I’m sure some of us wish that was an option. Junk food and takeout isn’t a good answer, either. So what to do? Prep! I had weight loss surgery, so my nutritional requirements are quite strict. I can’t eat most ‘quickie’ foods others can eat. We had to improvise. Once every few weeks, we meal prep for me.

We’ll make up 30-40 single serve freezer meals, including breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. We pre-cook them and then freeze, so I just have to reheat them in the microwave for a minute or so. It takes us a couple of hours, but then I’ve got quick, healthy meals for the month. We also grab some canned tuna in water and rice crackers, for a quick high protein meal that isn’t pre-frozen when I just want something to crunch.

When we go to the grocery store, I also stock up on healthy snacks. Dried chickpeas, nuts, fruits, and jerkies are favorites, as are protein and cereal bars. I keep a snack container on the floor next to my table. When I need a small snack, I can reach down and grab something. When I want a meal, I pull something from the freezer, pop it in to nuke it, and I’ve got something that’s good for me that I like in less than 2 minutes. If you’re like me and you set your writing days to 2 days a week, one day of prepping can yield you months of freezer meals like this.

Basically, set aside your time. Keep to it as best as you possibly can. When you get interrupted, work out the issue quickly and then get back to work. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted, or the entire day’s schedule is shot. Utilize apps that force you off of social media and other time-sucking sites after so many minutes if you have to. Whatever it takes, because, as I’m understanding now- writing IS our job as well and we need to treat it as such.

When we sit down to write, we are officially clocking in. We don’t stop until break time, and then when we clock out. That’s how a job works, and that’s how our writing days should work. People who can’t understand that aren’t the ones you need in your corner. You need to surround yourself with supportive people to make it in this industry. Well, any industry, really, but for an indie author, your tribe needs to lift you up and help you reach your goals, as you do for them. Guard your time, do what you need to do. Everything else comes after.

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