Dealing with Distractions

So you have an idea. You sit down at your typewriter and start to peck it out. You’re a few sentences in and starting to get a good thinking and typing rhythm going, then one of the kids cries.

You go deal with that dirty diaper or, as is often the case at my house, the two year-old assaulting the one year-old. You sit back down at your writing desk and try to remember where you left off. You see the last few sentences, but the flow of thoughts isn’t the same. You start typing anyway, wasting a few sentences just to get back to the zone, if you will. You get going pretty well then start wondering if anyone commented on your exceptionally clever Facebook post.

Three people have ‘liked’ it, but you were looking for a passionate debate to erupt. Anyway, two of the three probably missed what you were trying to say. Speaking of trying to say things, you have this story to finish. You start typing again. tickity tickity tickity ding swoosh tickity tickity tickity ding swoosh

(I hope you enjoy my typewriter onomatopoeia)

Now it’s dinner time. By the time you eat, bath and bed the kids, and watched tv with your significant other, it’ll be late and you may or may not get back to even trying to write more today.

So how should we deal with distractions? I’ll share a few ways that I deal with distractions, but this is still an issue for me, so please comment with your suggestions.

My kids distract me more than anything. They aren’t yet old enough to understand if Daddy needs some alone time for writing. I’ve tried freeing myself from their distracting abilities by writing before they wake in the morning or after they’ve gone to bed at night. This has yielded mixed success. I’m not a morning person, so I have trouble getting up before they do. If I do, I end up sitting in the kitchen with a cup of tea trying to convince my body to find full alertness.

Sometimes I make arrangements with my wife to exclusively watch the kids while I write. In exchange, I offer to watch them for her while she accomplishes something. This hasn’t worked well. If she is watching them, they decide that they need my attention and will do whatever is necessary to get it. My writing area is a portion of the living that is separated by a baby gate, so there isn’t the easy option of closing the door.

The other option with the kids is writing somewhere other than at home. I try to schedule some time each week when I can go to a coffee shop and write. I can’t do this too much, though. I have no interest in being a bad husband or father by being perpetually gone. Destroying their families has worked out swell for some writers, but I’m not going to try it. Usually the coffee shop time is well-spent, but introduce my other major distractions: friends and internets. I frequent several coffee shops in Tulsa. I mean frequent. I’m hard-pressed to walk into a coffee shop within 20 miles and not know the barista or at least one fellow regular customer. Depending on which friend(s) I see, I may or may not have trouble shortening the conversation to focus on work.

Then there’s the internet. The problem (well one problem) with writing on a computer is the availability of, well, anything. Even during the writing of this brief blog post, I’ve stopped to check Facebook and Twitter and to look at pictures on If I were writing something more serious, I might turn off my wifi to avoid this distraction, but this depends on self-discipline, something I lack.

What are some of your common distractions? How do you deal with them?

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