Monday, November 7, 2011


As I write this blog post, the TV is on, my phone buzzes with periodic text messages, and I'm too tired to remain focused on the words on my screen.  My husband is listening to his show with headphones on, because he's considerate and kind, but the flashing images still catch my eye, and then I wonder what in the world is going on. I thought, with this backdrop, it would be good to talk about distractions.

I know I'm easily distracted by TV.  Give me a glowing screen with moving images and sounds, and I'm glued to it.  I often tune out entire conversations real people are having because I'm more interested in what the pretend ones on the glowy box have to say.  I can mentally multitask doing almost anything, but TV sucks my attention in a way nothing else does.

I can listen to music without much of a problem, with a caveat.  If it's a song I like but I don't know the words yet, I'll stop to listen to them.  I will, therefore, set aside times to listen to music where that's not a problem, so it doesn't become a distraction while I'm writing.  Generally speaking, while I'm making creative output, listening to music helps keep me focused and on track.  When I'm editing, it's more helpful to have silence, so I can "hear" the flow of the words better in my head.

I find that distractions are important during another major part of the creative process for me, though.  Especially in the early drafting phases, I need moments of boredom.  I need times when I can't pick up a distraction easily, where my mind can wander because it has nothing better to do.  Exercising serves this function, as do long car trips, though I've carved out some other mindless spaces where I have this opportunity, as well.

Obviously, my process is not your process, and it's ironic to discuss distractions on a blog that is, itself, a distraction that takes time I could be writing out of my day.  But, having heard of writers who can draft with 50 things going on around them, and others who lock themselves in a soundproof room, I'm curious to hear what sort of environmental cues my few, my happy few readers need in order to function.  Do you need background noise, something to focus away from in order to concentrate on what you're doing?  Or, do you produce better with nothing shiny to catch your attention?  Do you have those moments of boredom to think over what you're writing, or do you prefer to jump in and let the story shape itself as the words (or outline) sketch themselves into a shape?

From what I've seen so far, what your process is doesn't seem to matter as the fact that you have one, that you know what it is, and that it's a realistic plan for you.  So I'm not interested in judging anyone.  I'm just curious.


  1. I'm finding that it is easier to write when the TV is off and Emily is sleeping. Of course, that doesn't leave a lot of time.

  2. It is, indeed, something of a privilege to have the time to turn off distractions and tune things out.