Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Dastardly Distractions or Inspiring Innovations

I’m back writing. Regularly. Thanks to a promise to myself at the start of the year to write a minimum of 500 words whenever my ass is in the writing seat. By mid January, I’d added an addendum – to park my ass in that writing seat as often as possible, and by and large it’s worked. The WIP is growing in word count and I’m pleased with the outcome.
Pleased, but not thrilled. I could do more. The sisters of mercy warned me during my formative years - telling me that looking out the window would get me no-where. Well, they were right and they were wrong. Right when they wrote ‘could do better’ on my school reports and wrong about looking out the window. I was in fact focussing, just not on anything they said...

Nowadays, it’s the direction of my focus that I still struggle with. A busy personal life means that my ass ain’t in the writing seat as often as it should be, so when it is, I’m having to train myself not to ‘look out the window’. I’ve practised the avoidance of blogs, twitter, podcasts, facebook etc, having told myself that they are a distraction from the job in hand.

BUT, I’ve also had to face that I have the concentration span of a gnat. I get bored quickly, even with writing and I need a little distraction every now and then to keep the momentum going.
The problem is my drug of choice i.e. the internet, is just TOO distracting and time consuming, so I came up with a cunning plan. I would surround myself with impressive and inspirational writerly distractions. The theory behind this was so genius in it’s simplicity that if it worked, I could write a book on it. Watch this space.

So today, I had an hour and a half to write and here’s a list of the writerly distractions that I allowed on my desk.
1. A newspaper
2. A dictionary
3. A Thesaurus

Yes, yes, I know they’re all on my laptop but you’re missing the point!

4. The book I’m reading – Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
5. A photograph
6. My notebook
7. My iphone – in case of an emergency
8. A red pen

I did get my 500 words done, quite quickly in fact, so I told myself to press on – try and aim for a thousand today. I almost made it when somehow, I found myself doodling on a stray piece of paper with the red pen. I drew trees and hearts and boxes with lids (anyone know what doodles mean?!) The I found an app on the phone that cost me 59p called Writing Tips and it’s brilliant and for only 59p? It had to be done. Then I stood up and put on a dark wash and sorted a white one for later. Had a cup of tea. Doodled some more (squiggly lines this time) followed by a brainwave about my main character and I wrote loads of notes in my notebook.

All in all, a successful session I feel. Focus, have a look out the window, re-focus, have another little look. Concentrate. Write. Doodle. Finish writing.

Easy...

Anyone know what a red heart in a box with an arrow going through it and a puddle underneath it means? Looks a bit scary. But you know, the more I look at it... there’s a story in there somewhere.

13 comments:

Helen Black said...

Oh getting distracted is so easy...I mean, we're meant to love our writing and yet we'll do anything but...
HBx

Caroline Green said...

I am the WORST for procrastination. I think I actually have the attention span of something unicellular. Have found unplugging the modem quite useful lately...

Debs Riccio said...

I'll see your knat, Fi, and raise you a gnat! Welcome back to the wonderful world of writing - it's a doodle, isn't it (intentional sp, btw!)x

Fionnuala said...

OOOOPS!!!!

Storycollector said...

I love this post. Time sometimes slips away when you are writing but on other days...

I have started using one notebook, rather than a series of books for different jobs. It's nice art sketch pad, and in it I'm allowed to do what I want - I don't have to focus on being writerly. I doodle, draw, actually colour in (like a child), write lists etc. I'm telling myself that it's not time wasting it's being creative with my life as it is. I'm so impressed with it as a method of creative procrastination that I've just written about it in my blog. Great minds and fools and all that. We're onto something here - non-techi procrastination could become all the rage.

Meika said...

The internet will be the downfall of my writerly ambitions. I've taken to switching off the wifi on my computer when I'm writing. Doesn't really stop me from taking a peek at the pages that are already loaded. Or playing a game or two of Freecell. I think it's harder actually making myself write than getting the actual writing done!

MorningAJ said...

Hey - I have days like that at WORK!

Just keep sitting and looking and eventually the muse will strike.

barjoker said...

I couldn't concentrate on this post. Something kept distracting me... Apart from just the two Twitter-peeks while I read it, I was also distracted by the word 'ass'. I HATE this word! With a passion! I love 'arse,' on the other hand, with all the lovely English/Irish connotations of laziness/Father Ted; but 'ass' is used so often by the Americans in the context of 'a piece of -' in that dehumanising way, that it just makes me cringe. Sorry, total thread-jack. Great post, on the other hand. Now, must check Facebook...

Fionnuala said...

Thanks so much to everyone for their comments.

Storycollector - Yes! Great non techie minds think alike!


Meika - But do you know what the doodles MEAN??!!

Barjoker - Actually I agree with you on the one hand, in that I much prefer the use of the word 'arse' being Irish myself. However, I have found some people react negatively to it almost considering it a swear word! It does sound so much more ... onomatopoeic?! But I disagree in that I HATED Father Ted with a passion!!

barjoker said...

I used to love tormenting my (very Catholic) granny by making her watch Father Ted - she couldn't help sniggering and then would get cross with everyone! I think being Irish it's your prerogative to hate it - from anyone else it would be heresy ;-).

On the a*s/a*se question: what I don't understand is how one could be considered swearing and not the other? 'Ass' would only *not* be if used in the context of 'donkey,' surely? (Pedant alert)

Derek said...

The heart in a box sounds like something left outside someone's front door on Valentine's Day morning, from a disgruntled ex or a stalker. Worse, maybe it's a pig's heart. And maybe the recipient is male?! Good luck with it, anyway.

Fionnuala said...

Derek, I had the feeling that it might inspire a story of someone who's trapped in a loveless marriage but I love your ideas too!

womagwriter said...

Funnily I find I write best with loads of distractions. Laptop on lap, TV on and in my sight line, internet and email fired up. Write a paragraph, check for new blog posts, write another, watch ten minutes of tv, write a bit more and check my email.

I expect I am writing rubbish but will worry about that in the edit.

I doodle during the day job, a lot!