Sunday, January 31, 2010

Today's Excuse: I Get Distracted

The simplest writing advice, and possibly the best, is some verson of Keep Your Butt in The Chair. With your butt in the chair, you have nowhere to go but to the screen or to the page. If you've set aside your time, and you have finally made it to your writing space, you should be halfway there. Your writing potential is suddenly alive and well.

Your butt is in the chair.

Hmm...that Excuse Editor lady says this is the best advice-- so where's my great writing?!?

DISTRACTIONS

Take a look at where your fingers and eyes travel once you sit down:

  • "You've got Mail!" How can you ignore that little envelope on the screen? It could be really, really important...

  • "ThatChickYouMetThatOneTime is Following you on Twitter, or SomeDudeFromHighSchoolWhoNeverTalkedToYou wants to be your Friend." Tweets and Posts are like potato chips, you can't stop with just one...

  • "Down with O.P.B." --Other People's Blogs. Yes, there are some great ones out there, but are your readers looking for yours?

  • "Beige, I think I'll paint the ceiling Beige." Looking around the room for inspiration won't kill your Writing Muse, but what if your Redecorating Muse wants to join the party?

  • "Flashback." Your inner editor makes a visit and starts picking apart your last writing session...

  • "Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe." You have reams of great notes and ideas to work on. It doesn't seem fair to pick a favorite.
EXCUSE EDITOR TIP:
FIND YOUR FOCUS

What works for you may not work for the Writer Next Door. The trick is to discover the path that lands you smack dab in Your writing moment.


  • Ease into it.

    • You need to get comfortable in your chair, test it out, relax a bit before you start writing. Besides, you're the Princess. And that email that came in? Totally your boulder-sized Pea. You won't be able to concentrate on anything until you open it. Catching up with your Facebook friends will help your mood. You can't start your writing day without checking Excuse Editor? OK, I won't stand in your way;)

    • Don't get too comfortable. Before you know it, your allotted writing time is gone. All of your Preparing to Write turned into Not Writing at all.

      • Set a Limit-- and a timer, if necessary, to "adjust to writing temperature". Make sure it only takes up a small portion of your writing time. If you have set aside an hour and a half for writing (and that is really all you have), don't get lost in Farmville. You have real stories to grow.
  • Jump Right In!
    • You are Ready! Pencils sharpened, laptop warmed up-- you begin. Words are showing up on the page so fast you are trying to keep up.
    • Come up for air. You jumped in so quickly you are splashing everywhere. Sure, you can edit for a life preserver later, but take a breath now. Your mind is a bit scattered, and it shows. Take a few minutes to make sure your writing will be able to be saved later:
      • Morning Pages or A Freewrite-- Julia Cameron is credited with the Morning Pages tool, a way to begin your creative day. Morning pages are three pages of stream of consciousness with No Inner Editor allowed. They are usually done in the morning. I've found that after the three pages, I've either written something inspiring that helps me focus on that day's writing, or I'm glad I got such nonsense out of the way, so I can get to the work of the day (if there's something else going on in my life, I can leave it scribbled on the page for now, and focus on something else.)  Even if you decide to do a freewrite into a word document, and your writing time is at night, it helps clear out some of the clutter.
  • Watch for Sharks
    • You need to be aware of your surroundings, but trust you will be safe with your butt in the chair. You are sitting there for your writing. Only if you dangle yourself over the edge will your writing be in danger.
    • Life Preserver is available at all times. Do whatever it takes to keep you away from the predatory distractions. Close your email, facebook, the internet. Sure, if you use online dictionaries, that's fine, but be aware of how long you linger. Decide on a writing project when you schedule your writing time, so you don't get lost swimming through your pages of ideas. Pick one and stick with it. Also, decide if your writing time is for writing or for editing-- you need both, but you may have trouble doing it at the same time. Be careful of waiting to be inspired. After a time, all that waiting adds up to a wimpy word count and a character who has been stranded in a off the highway bathroom for weeks!

Not all "writing" takes place in the chair. Even before you make it there, you are thinking of ideas, trying out scenerios. However, when you do make it to the chair, make it worth your time and allow your work to move forward.

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