Writing Amidst Distractions

I used to require absolute silence to write. No music, no TV, no people, absolutely nothing. And then, if my concentration was broken, the day was lost. I could never get back into my story. Once that distraction came, my productivity was shot.

I still prefer to write in silence. There’s something about shutting out the entire world and getting completely wrapped up in my project that just helps my story to flow. But I don’t require it anymore. More importantly, I don’t find it much anymore.

At the moment, I’m sitting at my parents’ dining room table while my nieces and nephew (ages 7, 4, & 2) run around and play with my dog and scream at each other and wait for Grandma to make them grilled cheese sandwiches. Granted, I was balancing my checkbook and now I’m writing a post, I’m not involved in my novel, but the concept still applies. While the kids are here, I don’t get perfect silence. But I’m learning to keep them in the periphery. I can’t shut them out completely, because I need to intervene if someone cries or gets knocked over by the dog or whatever else comes up that needs my attention. But I can think over the noise.

I don’t get perfect silence at home, either. I prefer to write in the morning, when I can, but it doesn’t always happen that way. The problem with that is, my husband is home in the mornings. He works second shift, so he’s always available to interrupt and invade the living room and ask me questions and bang stuff around in the kitchen. He also plays a lot of video games in one of our bedrooms, and the music typically drifts down the hallway and into my brain. Sometimes, when we haven’t seen each other much, I’ve even taken my laptop into the bedroom and sat on the floor while he played. That’s a bit harder to do, because I have a tendency to watch him play instead of focusing on my own work, but at least a little gets done.

The whole point being, if I were to wait for complete silence to write then I would rarely get things done. At least, I wouldn’t get them done when I wanted to get them done. My house is pretty quiet late at night, but I don’t think well that late and would much rather get my work done earlier in the day. Keeping my focus is a mindset, one I’ve struggled to cultivate so that I can work through the noise, buckle down, and get the work done.

Talk to me in the comments. How do you fare working in distracting environments? How do you keep your focus?

Rediscovering My Love of Library Books

The title of this post is a bit misleading. I’ve always loved to read. I’ve never forgotten that I love reading, or felt a desire to not read anymore. But since I “grew up”, and especially in the last few years, I’ve felt that I didn’t have time.

All through school and into college, a stack of library books perpetually lived in my bedroom. That’s where I spent much of my free time. But then something changed. I graduated. I got a “real” job. I got married. I still loved reading, but months would go by without me picking up a single book. This made me sad, but I didn’t know how to change it. I just didn’t have the time to waste.

I think I was conditioned to think this way. Adults used to tell me they used to read a lot but couldn’t find the time anymore. Especially after having kids. I never saw adults carrying stacks of books through the library, not like I did. So it made sense that I didn’t have time anymore either. After all, I worked all day, and when I got home there was still dinner to make and a house to clean. Weekends were spent catching up on house things, or doing couple things, or just vegging in front of the TV because I was completely unmotivated to do anything else.

My perspective has now changed. Granted, I’ve officially been unemployed for more than a year. I spent some time helping my family after my mother’s surgery, then my husband and I did the whole military-move thing. My days now are mostly spent at home, pursuing whatever I want. I’m busier than I’ve ever been. I’m writing, I read for my critique partner (and others, occasionally), I work part-time for an online company. I do the house things: cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, etc. I train and exercise our puppy. I have church commitments. But there’s currently a stack of library books on my dining room table.

I’ve realized over the past year that if something is important to me, I need to make time for it. It’s a simple lesson, but one I put off for far too long. It’s what’s motivating me to buckle down on my writing. I love to read, and if I truly want to do it, I need to sacrifice something else.

So I make it a point to read now. Sometimes it’s only an hour while I eat my lunch. Sometimes it’s a couple of hours in the evening, when I’ve planned my day right and managed to get everything else done. Sometimes it’s even an entire Saturday, when I’ve had a long and stressful week and need to take a day off. My point being, I want it in my life. So I find places that it fits.


Grammar Joke

Today’s post is a fun one. Here is an image I downloaded several months ago from theCHIVE, because I’m a nerd who thinks grammar jokes are funny.


Happy writing all!

Future Competition

My niece is writing a book. You know how everyone thinks their kids are the best? Well, I don’t have any kids, but my nieces and nephews rock. Claire just turned 7, and she’s one smart cookie. Today I thought I’d share her book with you:

Not bad, huh?

As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.