The goal of becoming a writer is often accompanied by romantic daydreams. Maybe you picture yourself seated before an antique Remington typewriter that rests upon a beautiful oak desk. You lounge back to take a break from another round of inspired creativity and peer out a bay window overlooking a serene lake. Birds chirp in a nearby willow tree. The sun shines. A refreshing breeze blows across your face as a brilliant idea takes shape in your mind. With a crack of your knuckles, you hunch back over that Remington, and the next Great American Novel flows from your fingertips, free of typographical errors or the need for future editing.
Gee, that would be great. But reality seldom allows your daydreams come to fruition.
These days, it’s a fortunate soul that can become a dedicated, full-time writer. The rest of us have to schedule time for The Muse. Children must be fed. Day jobs must take priority. Husbands must be appeased. Taxes must be paid. Eventually, you even have to sleep.
Distraction is the modern author’s greatest foe. I know this to be true. I can’t imagine anything worse than being an author with the attention span of a gnat…which is to say that I can’t imagine a crueler fate than being me.
Some of my issues are nearly impossible to overcome. Work. Work is a tremendous problem. I must go to work to earn money to keep a roof over my head so I can write when I’m not at work. Talk about a conundrum—my writing work is constantly interrupted by my work work.
All writers are surrounded by distraction. I’m sure even Shakespeare sometimes had to throw down his quill and listen to his Missus complain about the neighbors on occasion. But life in the digital age offers a completely different set of challenges.
It’s so very easy to become lazy, isn’t it? A quick internet search under the guise of research can quickly degrade into an hour of staring at a computer screen, watching videos of silly kitties jumping in and out of boxes. Facebook addiction can destroy the progress of a novel-in-the-making, and the lure of tweeting witty observations about writing life in 140 characters or less can derail any good writerly intentions.
I’ve read many blog posts and articles about how to be a more effective writer. I’ve pored over the bullet points. I’ve linked the advice of dozens of professionals on all of my social networking sites. I’ve tried to make the schedules that some suggest. I’ve begged for cheers of motivation on multiple networks.
I even started to write a blog post for the SCWW on how I, and all of you, could become more productive writers. But then I found a really funny video compilation on YouTube, and lost my train of thought. Once my brain got back on track, I felt like an idiot. Who am I, after all, to try to advise aspiring writers about time-management?
Oh, yeah. I’m human. Just like you. Someone with a work-in-progress that really needs to find The End. Someone with Busy Life Syndrome. Just like you.
So, my sage advice, dear readers, is this:
Pick a time for yourself and your words and stick to it. Even if you can only spare an hour, take that time and use it well.
If you get distracted, STOP IT.
Get back to writing.
Just do it.
Are you listening? I hope not. You should be writing, after all.