Monday, August 22, 2011

6 Benefits of Distractions from Writing

When we have writing goals and deadlines to stick to, distractions can be frustrating. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done and write that brilliant novel. We value our writing time, especially those of us who don’t get a lot of it, and we can become prickly and difficult to live with if we lose time to distractions. We may even tell ourselves that we can’t write unless specific conditions are met.

I would challenge anyone who has experienced this kind of frustration and say not all distractions are bad—and here’s why:

1. Distractions can offer inspiration. Ideas for stories come from anywhere and everywhere. We need to remember this the next time a salesperson knocks at our door, or a neighbour wants to chat. Treasure every moment, every opportunity.

2. Distractions can be an opportunity to take a break. Frequent short breaks are needed to keep a fresh view of our manuscripts. They keep our minds clear and they help us to see the big picture in our structures and plots.

3. Distractions can be a sign of flawed work. I know for a fact that when a scene isn’t working I’m more easily distracted. These kind of distractions are ones I can control—like playing spider solitaire, jumping up for yet another snack, or staring out the window for no apparent reason. When I realise what is happening, I’m more able to find the problem and fix the scene.

4. Distractions are a part of life. Writing is a solitary occupation. We can so easily turn into hermits because we can become so focussed on our work. Distractions bring us back to the world of the living. We can’t afford to cut ourselves off from everything.

5. Distractions can teach us to adapt. When we are distracted a lot we can either give in, or teach ourselves to make the most of the time given to us. We don’t need to set up a whole lot of conditions before we can write. We just write. A minute is all we need.

6. Distractions remind us of our priorities. No matter what, family and friends will always be my first priority. If anyone is in need I will drop everything.

What other benefits have you experienced when you’ve been distracted from your writing?

52 comments:

  1. I definitely credit the distraction of movies with inspiration. And the third one is so true - if I'm bored writing it, then the reader will be even more bored.
    Some distractions give us a chance to relax and let our mind clear. That's why I play my guitar every day. I think better afterwards.

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  2. All of these points ring true.

    Distractions can really annoy me, but they have many benefits and –like you say – they're part of life.

    Thanks for the reminder, and a timely one it is!

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  3. Yup. I have to agree that certain distractions help us work kinks out of our WIPs.

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  4. Yup. I have to agree that certain distractions help us work kinks out of our WIPs.

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  5. hah! Apparently I'm not alone in making use of spider solitaire :)

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  6. It's true. I'm much more easily distracted when my plot is stuck in a rut. Sometimes it's good to step away and do something else while the subconscious works it out.

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  7. Very good advice, Lynda. I can tell you are an experienced writer and am so glad you are willing to share what you have learned along the writing path. Your posts are always so helpful.
    Thanks!
    Pam 2encourage.blogspot.com

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  8. I'm definitely at #3 - flawed work. Sigh.

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  9. This is a great list, and good stuff to think about. I am sometimes guilty of letting things distract me for all the wrong reasons (like, I'm nervous about what I'm writing or others' expectations for it), so maybe we could add: Distractions are opportunities to further examine what's really going on? If I take the time to think about why I'm so distracted, sometimes I come to a greater understanding of something that's actually troubling me, and it helps me to get past it.

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  10. The distractions that leave your mind free to idly wander off on some tangent are the best kind. An inspiration, in any form, will often pop up when I'm playing 'those mindless games'. Like spider solitaire. ^_^

    But I cannot abide the times when I've the perfect sentence and while in the middle of typing it up ... someone speaks. That's followed by said perfect wordings flying out the proverbial window, never to be seen again. -_-

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  11. A great list. I'll remember them next time I'm distracted and feel like I'm procrastinating!

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  12. So true. I can related to #2 in particular - I can't stare at page after page without taking 2 minutes to look at something else. Little breaks keep my brain charged.

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  13. I have been 'preparing' to mount an effort against distractions all summer.

    It's time.

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  14. distractions make me want to get back to what I love to do.

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  15. This is a lovely fresh take on distractions. Far better than getting all frustrated. I like short breaks and welcome any distraction, ha ha...

    Denise

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  16. I agree with all of these. I tend to go along the lines of 'if the story isn't interesting enough to keep my attention while I'm writing it, then it's not going to be interesting enough for the reader'. Plus I tend to get a lot of my inspiration while I'm distracted (or as I call it, procrastinating, hehe).

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  17. Yay for distractions!!! I guess it's how you react to these and turn them to your advantage are what matters! Take care
    x

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  18. Alex, yes, relaxation is important. And I love movies too--and sometimes they even inspire :)

    K C Woolf, it's timely for me too (it's why I wrote it hehehe)

    Shelly, they do :)

    mshatch, haha absolutely not!

    Luanne, so true.

    Pam, thanks. That means a lot to me :)

    Christine, hehe. At elast we have a warning sign so it's less easy to gloss over ;)

    Sarah, oh yes! Great point. They ARE a good way of examining what's really going on behind letting ourselves get distracted in the first place.

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  19. Aldrea, you're lucky. I usually get nothing when I'm playing those mindless games. My mind totally switches off. lol.

    Christine, hope it helps

    Jennifer, it's good for the eyes too ;)

    Suze, I'll admit, summer is for out doors ;)

    Jeff, yes indeed!

    L'Aussie, short breaks are great. It's the ones that last half a day that could be addressed ;)

    Jamie, inspiration makes the distractions worth it.

    Old Kitty, yes exactly! :)

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  20. There is such a thing as getting burnt out because you're doing too much of one thing. A distraction is definitely a prevention method. :)

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  21. Wonderful post. This helped me see that distractions aren't always bad (I get distracted frequently).

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  22. For me? I'd say sometimes distractions aren't good. But sometimes, if I recognize the distraction and go for a walk or clean - then the solutions/ideas come.

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  23. Sometimes when I get distracted, I come back with a better idea than I had before. Usually the ease with which I'm distracted signals to me that I need to think something over a bit more.

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  24. love how you mentioned salespersons and neighbours as possible sources of inspiration, that's a sign of a true writer :)

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  25. Life and the world is the artists canvas...so I suppose some of those distractions weren't distractions after all;) Cool post:)

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  26. Lynda - I agree with your list, especially the part about family coming first. Distractions aren't always bad. You always have such helpful advice.

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  27. The distraction of the observatory inspires me. The distraction of being involved in the writers guild is a good thing. There really isn't enough time to get everything done. I'd love the distraction of a maid.

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  28. Great photo to match the post! True points all, but...I still hate those distractions at the time. LOL But I get over it, once I see they have purpose. :)

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  29. Great reminder! It totally puts things into perspective. Distractions are something to be embraced!

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  30. Laila, so very true!

    Emily, fantastic :)

    Laura, yep, even cleaning can help our writing (gasp).

    Amie, it's good when that happens.

    Dezzy, such is my dream

    Ellie, *cheer*

    Mark, thanks

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  31. Maeve, thanks :)

    M Pax, great examples of good distractions--and yes, wish I had a maid too.

    Carol, thanks. I love those moments of surprised delight when a distraction turns into an inspiration.

    Peggy, so, so true :)

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  32. Great points. Outside distractions drive me crazy, but I'll keep this in mind for the next time they crop up. Thanks for this!

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  33. Love all your distraction points and agree with them:) Just saying hi as your fellow campaigner. Looking forward to more of your posts.

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  34. Distractions can really help me focus after I've allowed that time. Sometimes it's hard to see that this might be so, but I'm always grateful for it after the fact.

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  35. Great post! I'm in your group for Rachel's Writing Campaign, so I thought I'd stop by and say hello. :) Looking forward to seeing you around!

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  36. Jenna, hope it helps!

    J, Fantastic! I took part in Rachael's campaign earlier in the year and it was brilliant.
    Looking forward to seeing you around too.

    Shannon, if only we could see that before the fact ;)

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  37. Distractions are the summer break and my two darling children.

    Interesting post. At the moment, distractions are keeping me going - need sleep.

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  38. Hello! Another campaigner popping by to join your blog :o)

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  39. Hi Lynda! I'm in your Aussie/Kiwi campaign group.

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  40. Hi Lynda..I am easily distracted. I can completely identify with point 2. Like you I think distractions can work to our advantage by giving us those precious moments of refreshing time.

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  41. Distractions are so important. I find when my husband forces me out of the house and away from writing, some of the best inspiration hits me.

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  42. I never thought of distractions quite that way before, but your list makes perfect sense.

    Dropping by to introduce myself as a fellow campaigner and new follower.

    Love the look of your blog (and that you state when you post-- something I need to consider!)

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  43. Hey there, fellow campaigner! Wow, you know I like your unique point of view. I'm one of those "beat-myself-up-if-I-let-myself-leave-the-computer-before-pounding-out-my-allotted-page-count" type person, but you're right - distractions can and do serve a useful purpose! Or five useful purposes as it were. I guess your last one hits home most for me, though - the people I love always come first on my list no matter what. :-)

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  44. How nice to read something positive about distractions! It'll be great getting to know you during the Urban Fantasy campaign. Nice to meet you!

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  45. I agree that distractions can be fabulous! And that we need to appreciate the entire writing process--even the distractions.

    I'm a fellow campaigner in your YA group. Excited to see you in the campaigner--I've been following your blog for awhile!

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  46. I agree!

    I'm often inspired by something that distracted me; or I come up with something while focusing on the distraction.

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  47. Fi, summer can be a huge distraction, but it's good to get outdoors.

    Amanda, Hello!! Nice to meet another campaigner.

    Jen, awesome group ;)

    Rachna, exactly. And we all need refreshment.

    Clarissa, aren't husbands wonderful like that? hehe

    Mary, welcome! It's great meeting all these fantastic campaigners.

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  48. Crystal, I'm a lot like that also and that's why I thought this post might me helpful because it's something I have to remind myself of as well.

    Miss Cole, welcome and it's great to meet you too.

    Heidi, this campaign is not only great for meeting new people, but reuniting with fellow followers.

    Golden, yes, and it usually happens when we accept those distractions too rather than just fighting them. :)

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  49. Another helpful post. Distractions are a sign that something is not right. Time to look inward, assess the situation and take steps to overcome it.
    Thank You.

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  50. Hi! Just dropping in from the campaign to say hello. I definitely like what I see here and WILL be back! Paula S. Jordan

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