Blogger: Michelle Ule
Sitting in for Rachelle
In the course of writing a book you often have to write with distractions demanding your attention.
It’s the nature of life in general, but sometimes unusual events intrude.
(Death, birth, fire, natural disasters, computer breakdown, flooding, for example.).
Having to deal with unexpected personal events can make it hard to concentrate on a writing project.
Here are five suggestions of how to write with unusual distractions
1. Recognize your fallibility and step way for a specific amount of time.
Step away from the actual writing.
If you’re in a crisis, your ability to concentrate and write well could suffer.
So, give yourself a break, particularly if your family needs you.
You can do other things besides write and still be available.
2. Hunt up pertinent and current research needs
In my personal case, I discovered a book answering many of the questions I needed for the particular chapter I was writing.
I read it.
Rather than try to work on my book, however, I simply took notes.
I thought about how to use the information in the current chapter.
But I didn’t work on that chapter!
I didn’t change or edit, either.
3. Do auxiliary research for later.
I researched online obscure facts about an auxiliary character I could use in the book.
It turned out, the facts were pertinent to several chapters.
I typed the information into a new document, titled it with the proper name, and had information for later use.
I didn’t waste my time, I just aimed it in a different direction.
Finding that information, by the way, encouraged me that while I may not have been writing, I was working on my project.
4. Schedule social media.
Some might argue that participating in social media always means writing with distractions!
During that awful week, I wrote blog posts.
I scheduled the posts and didn’t have to write posts for the next three weeks.
That freed up time to work on the real project, once distractions settled down.
I also put together tweets for Hootsuite and scheduled items for my Facebook author page.
5. Outline your current chapter.
I took all the research and quotations I needed for the chapter and placed them in a new document.
Once the distractions eased and I returned to actual work, I easily finished the chapter using that outline.
Because I was merely scribbling down ideas, I could break away to help the family whenever they needed me.
6. Read a novel in your subject field.
Novels incorporate emotions into a story. Sometimes when we’re in a fraught personal situation, we need to get lost in another life.
I read a novel that awful week that helped me during our family’s crisis.
The novel happened to be pertinent to my life and my book, which was personally helpful.
The end result?
Once our family’s crisis resolved, I took up the chapter again and quickly finished it.
I’d processed ideas and information during that week away from writing.
Unfortunately, I’d experienced a parallel situation in my protagonist’s life.
But I returned wiser, more sympathetic and better able to work.
And my family came through fine.
5 things to do when crises hit your writing life. Click to Tweet
What to do when crises interfere with your writing. Click to Tweet
Yes, I have a grand distraction,
that’s the long and short of it.
He is Roscoe, Dog of Action
and he is a baby Pit.
He arrived back in December,
stray and lost and hesitant,
but that’s a state he won’t remember
for now he’s Mr. Confident.
He will dash between my feet
giving either knee a rap,
and then I suddenly will meet
Mr. Puppy in my lap.
Makes it kinda hard to write,
but my days are super-bright!
Mary Kay Moody
Wondered what kept you, Andrew, from responding as soon as Michelle posted as you usually do. Mr. Puppy sounds like a joy. Glad for some winter sunshine for you and Barb.
Mary Kay, he’s a delight; almost a caricature of the roly-poly exuberant pup. I ew weeks ago he was a terrified sinny stray who can been badly mauled by the neighbourhood cats. Today he’s always smiling, always talking…and turns up his nose at the felines.
Mary Kay Moody
Love does wonders!
PS I read Ed your post. He said, “Wow!” To him, you work magic with your words. 🙂
Mary Kay, gosh…I am so honoured.
And yes, love indeed does wonders. One day last week, Barb was looking around at all the dogs, who were being rarely quiet, and said, “Love really DOES live here.”
That’s what it’s all about.
GREAT poem, Andrew. And there’s nothing quite like a young dog to give you a smile. 🙂
Jeanne, thank you…and Roscoe is a truly wonderful addition to the clan.
In the fall of 2019, we lost four of the group, including three boys, and our last two ‘pure’ Pits.
I mourned this, and God was listening. Roscoe is both all-Pit and all-boy.
Mary Kay Moody
Good ideas, Michelle. I’ve used a few. Will file the others away for the … next time. For there’s always a next time; no? Glad to hear all survived. 🙂
Michelle, if I may ad this…one thing I use to get through distractions is humour. Lie is REALLY distracting now, with a large tumour invading my throat and making every swallow something I have to ‘think through’….and making me think that ‘no insurance and no care’ should have been thought through as well, but that’s a story for another time, like never.
Anyway, humour…pain being intractable, I decided to research the behaviour of Nero (Roman dude, played a mean fiddle, might have gone head-to-head with Charlie Daniels).
And this is the result, for which I make no apologies, though perhaps I should.
Back in ancient classics-land
where dead languages foregather,
there was an accomplished fiddle-hand
who got Rome into a lather.
He really offered little mercy,
that mean old Caesar, Nero,
prob’ly ‘cause when he was thirsty,
they gave him wine, not beer-o.
They say in vino veritas,
but not for this Roman man
who was forced to isolation of the glass,
missing Camaraderie of the Can.
‘Twas drinkin’ pals for which he yearned,
and thus denied, well, Rome he burned.
Good point, Andrew. Humor is always a good idea.
Lovely poem, too.
Michelle, these are great tips. I’ve used a couple of them, as well. It’s good we can find ways to improve our craft and stories, even when we can’t work on them directly.
The best part was not having to go back and rewrite all I tried to write while I was flooded with emotions and distractions!
Morgan Tarpley Smith
Great insight, Michelle!! Thanks!! 🙂
I’m an easily distracted person. I must fight against my demons:)
Excellent advice, Michelle. Two of them have been put to use by yours truly, as well. It’s great that we have strategies for developing our skills word hurdle and stories even when we can’t devote time to doing so directly.