I loved Kevan’s Monday post on interruptions and distractions. I struggle with those issues year-round, but in the summer it reaches critical mass, an affliction I like to call K3W0 (Kids: 3, Writing: 0). With travel and little league and music lessons and the many demands of keeping a household running smoothly, summer break really zaps both my productivity and my morale.
Having a book under contract has only intensified the weight of guilt I feel when I miss a day (or two or three) of writing. How can I be a “serious” writer if I can’t even squeeze writing time into my schedule? And when I do find time to sit down at the computer, the battle with interruption (other people) and distraction (myself) begins. It usually takes at least half an hour of Facebook, Twitter, email, online shopping, cute puppy videos, etc. before I find The Zone and turn off the distractions. And then, invariably, come the interruptions. Case in point: two sentences ago, my youngest popped in to tell me about an upcoming episode of Sofia the First. Something about butterflies and camping and…wait, what was I saying again?
The Zone is hard to find and easy to lose, especially when I’m in front of a computer. So I get cranky, allowing minor issues to mushroom all out of proportion, and declare the entire day a disaster. In short, I make everybody miserable.
For the sake of all parties involved, I had to find a compromise. First and foremost, it meant accepting the situation as it exists instead of stomping around like a toddler.
Second, I had to step away from the computer. Yes, dear ones, I’m referring to the lesser known form of writing involving actual pen and paper. I understand this isn’t for everyone, but for me it removes electronic distractions and allows me to write in shorter intervals, say 20 minutes riding in the car or 15 minutes waiting to pick up a child from a lesson or a birthday party. Of course I still have to type it all, but at least I have written notes to lean on, instead of a blank computer screen that double-dog dares me to run off and browse Pinterest for recipes I’ll never use.
Finally, I had to think back to more productive months of the year and remind myself that to everything there is a season. Last fall, once the kids were in school and our family routine was back in place, I was able to finish and revise MOTHMAN’S CURSE–actual proof that I am only a flake SOME of the time! Summer is simply a crazy time of year, and I had to let myself be okay with that.
So take it from me: guilt is a wasted emotion that sucks up all your positive energy and offers you nothing but grief in return. Life is complicated and unpredictable, and so are humans. If you write best in the winter, during an eclipse, eating cake, wearing a robe and slippers, at the lake, in the woods, on the roof, with crayons, on a tablet computer or a typewriter or a Commodore 64, it’s all okay. Exchange your guilt for acceptance, flexibility, and purpose. It’s a three-for-one special, and it has no expiration date.