Distractions by Ann Evans

Have you ever wondered just how much more writing you'd get done if you didn't get distracted?

For all our good intentions as we sit down to write, there's just so many distractions to contend with. And top of the distraction list for most people has to be the internet!

Where would we be without it though? It's information at our fingertips. Good old Google is a fount of all knowledge, and a massive time saver when you need to check something. And emails – what a disaster when they let us down!

Trouble is, most of our notifications from our social media sites gets fed through to our emails so often there are dozens of notifications of who's posted where, and it takes such a mountain of willpower not to be distracted and take a look then click on the post and maybe add your own two-pennyworth.

Facebook is probably the number one culprit. Of course it has its good side, the networking, socialising, making new writing contacts and friends, promoting your books etc. But it does have a knack of drawing us in, so that writing time is diminished by our continually dipping in and out of it as we sit and try to write.

But apart than the internet, what's your top distraction? Tea and coffee breaks? Definitely, but I've found that a tea break has its good and bad points. Bad – if you're working from home, when you walk away from your PC to make a cuppa, you also note that there's some washing up needing doing, or the carpet could do with a hoover, or washing to be hung out. So that 5-minute tea break can result in taking up half your day if you're not careful.

But on the good side, often stepping away from the computer screen especially when you can't think what to write next is the ideal way off getting the creative juices flowing again. When I worked as a feature writer for the Coventry Telegraph, where you had to write articles up pretty quickly, I found that once I'd got my opening sentence I was off and running. But staring at a blank screen rarely provided the inspiration for those first few woods to hook the reader.

So my routine was to get up from my desk and head off to the canteen and let the brain free-wheel for a moment. Almost without fail as I was adding boiling water to my teabag, those magical first words would jump into my head. I'd quickly get back and start writing – sometimes not even getting a sip of tea until the article was drafted out. It still works now. So I think there's something to be said for distractions.

Walking in general is a great distraction – and nearly always fires inspiration. A study two years ago by Stanford Graduate School of Education researchers found that walking boosts creative inspiration. They examined creativity levels of people while they walked versus while they sat. They discovered that a person's creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking. So if you need a distraction, you can't beat going for a walk.

Family and friends can be distractions too – but of course we wouldn't change that for the world, would we? And pets - our furry and feathered friends need a bit of attention too. My only pet at the moment is a cockatiel which you might think couldn't be any bother at all. Unfortunately, she thinks she's the boss and likes nothing more than to check out what I've written and thinks nothing of flying upstairs to my office, then patter her little feet all over the keyboard. Here she is now as I'm writing this blog, checking my mobile for texts in case one's for her. It's a good job she doesn't know about Twitter, that's all I can say!

Birdbrain Georgie

So what's the main thing that distracts you when you should be writing?

More distractions!


Ann Turnbull said…
Oh, your cockatiel is lovely! I had one many years ago. He was so friendly and chatty and wanted to be involved in everything I did. Just seeing that photo makes me miss him. (And now I must stop being distracted and get on with some work...)
Umberto Tosi said…
Oh yes, pets: dogs that want to sit in my lap, although too big for that. A cat that walks over the keyboard. And as a further distraction, I daydream about deciphering the gem of an idea in the gibberish kitty types on screen. From there I'm flashing on the delight I took as a kid coming across Don Marquis' Archie and Mehitabel in a humor anthology and devouring Archie stories afterward. Of course, now I'm Googling Marquis. Now I wish for a cockatiel. He's adorable! Truth by known, however, I was just as good at distracting myself long before the internet existed. Thanks for a fun post!
Ann Evans said…
Thank you Ann and Umberto for the comments. We all need distractions, in whatever form they come. :)

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