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Down, Cat! (And Other Distractions)

March 14, 2016

One of the most challenging aspects of being a writer is avoiding distractions. When I’m clicking away on my keyboard, I fight a number of them: cats jumping on my desk, the dog farting (well, he wanted pizza), husband whining about not being able to find his keys/wallet/head. Sometimes it’s hard to block everything out and focus on the work.

Because of this, I’ve found two things are absolutely important: 1) to find a sanctuary where I can write without distraction; and 2) to know when I’m distracted because I shouldn’t be writing. Both of these save me a lot of time.

With the first, my sanctuary is simple. It’s on my deck (sans pets), with coffee and music – usually Taylor Swift, Gavin DeGraw, or Sheryl Crow. I also adjust my Word document so I can’t see the word count. (Word count isn’t important; telling the story is). This lets me completely focus on my craft. As soon as I find myself getting distracted – pausing to unnecessarily watch a video on the Internet (Sylvester, the foul-mouthed kitty cat, you are awesome!), texting, etc., I know it’s time to take a break.

With the second, it’s important to know when I’m distracted because I shouldn’t be writing. This is generally when I want to feel productive by churning out pages, but I don’t actually have the inspiration. I plod along, increasing my word count, but it’s not natural writing. It might not be terrible, but it isn’t good enough to keep. Or maybe when I’m done with the manuscript, it’s a “problem” spot I revise more than others. It’s not a good use of time. I should go and do something else, and not open that document again until I feel like writing.

So, cat, the next time you walk across my keyboard, thanks a lot. I know you’re totally doing it for my own good, as you’re considerate like that.



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