I recently read a book…

Ok- I know that a lot of my blogs have started out with those words- that’s the beauty and curse of reading a a lot…you read and you get ideas…

So I read “Love Your Life” by Sophie Kinsella. In the beginning of the book the protagonist is at a writer’s retreat.

The first thing the instructor says to the group is that to be a writer is to eliminate all distractions. No phone. No TV. No outfit choices- wear the same thing every day. Eat the same thing every day.

Eliminate any distractions…

As I sometimes refer to myself as a writer…and I’m trying to write amongst my daughter making breakfast, my husband singing off key, my puppy leaping around, my cat trying to run through the apartment and not thinking the pup is going to follow her….

Maybe there’s a point in all of that…

If I eliminated my family- who are clearly distractions- would I be a better writer?

Before COVID I used to write when no one was home- I admit I loved the solitude. I loved making a cup of tea, sitting at my desk, looking at my inspirations, listening to something classical, or something jazzy or something rock and roll…

Now, and I am telling the absolute truth, my husband just asked me to “make” his cereal…which by the way is Cheerios with milk, because he “doesn’t know how to make cereal”.

And you wonder why I can’t write…

Now- we have my husband asking me if I want to taste the cereal that he made and my daughter is asking why some egg stuck to the non stick pan and the puppy is trying to take the slipper off my foot…and did you know he put blueberries in the cereal and he zzzzed it up…he’s still talking btw…

So for a moment, instead of writing the blog I intended to write, which was Should Writers Eliminate All Distractions, I will wax poetic about the days I could write without distraction.

Ok- I need to stand up and shake it off because I have indeed become completely distracted

Picture it- exactly a year ago. My husband at the office. My daughter at school. My old dog Sally freshly walked and sleeping on the couch, the cat lazily sitting on the windowsill.

I put the water to boil- lay the tea things out. I put on my weekly spotify playlist. I’m dressed in my writing clothes- a tee shirt and sweats or leggings. My furry Sketchers yoga mat insole slippers on my feet.

I carefully make my tea and freshen my thermal glass with water. I place them on coasters on the left side of my desk. I look at my page a day calendar and rip off yesterdays date and I look at the quote for the day. I take down my Simple Abundance book and read the day’s installment as I sip a glass of water.

I’m entering the zone.

I open up my planner. I take off the to do list that I have clipped to the page and I put it under the magnet on the right side of my desk.

I remind myself of the day’s topic and I carefully put the planner back in it’s designated spot. I take my computer from its spot and open it up.

I slowly sip my tea as the computer whirs to life.

The title of the day comes to mind as the warm tea slides down my throat warming me from the inside.

I type the words….and them I scroll down to the body paragraph….

Deep breath. Absorb the scent of lemon that is in the diffuser. Do a big stretch.

Settle in and write…

Which way do you think I prefer working?

So….

Do writers need to eliminate distractions?

Do writers need to have a routine?

What do you do as a writer? Do you have a routine? Are there things that you do that you need to get you in the mood? Do you eliminate distractions?

How do you write?

I know it is harder for me to write now, as opposed to a year ago. And yes- it all revolves around the changes in my life.

Is my writing better, worse or the same as last year? Have the changes of the past year effected by literary skill, assuming that I had any to begin with… Was I a better writer without the distractions?

Or do I need to get better at tuning out the world? Or is three people, two pets, 24/7 in 750 square feet just too much to overcome…

I’m happy that I blog every day. I’m happy to put words on paper and hit publish. I have published a post for about 200 straight days, probably more…

I’m happy I’m writing…

But I can’t help but wonder if I’d be better without all the distractions…

What do you all think?

95 thoughts on “Eliminate the Distraction

  1. “If I eliminated my family- who are clearly distractions- would I be a better writer?”…Be careful LA, I’m pretty sure one episode of Forensic Files started out with someone asking that question…😂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I would probably be better without distraction, but I hate silence so I usually have TV or music on in the background and it does distract me on occasion. I still have one other person at home full time so I deal with the occasional speaker phone meeting in the background when she comes down to get food. When it gets warmer I might try moving outside to write.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t like silence either, but there’s a big difference between music/tv and actual people. My daughters school gave the kids weworks accounts, so when my daughter starts using I think I will be better off

      Liked by 2 people

      1. But…while you’re writing? I guess there’s two sides of this…you need distraction for inspiration, but solitude for actual writing? I’m thinking about this

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Nope, it won’t make a difference. Or it shouldn’t. I live alone now and I think I was actually more productive when I was working, had a busy family around me constantly. I think you develop a certain rhythm when your life is filled with distractions. Distractions force you to prioritize. You get more done. I believe I get a tad lazy without distractions. Learn to embrace them.
    *Your post immediately had me reciting Kipling’s poem “If” . A poem my 7th grade English teacher had the class memorize. So I e never forgotten it. I think it applies here. Even though it’s gender bias.

    If
    By Rudyard Kipling

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too:
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

    If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same:.
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
    And never breathe a word about your loss:
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much:
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the beautiful inspiration. I’m thrilled that I’ve blogged every day. I took a short hiatus in the summer but that was a different sort of break…I needed to regroup. But I admit quarantine/ pandemic is really getting to me

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As someone who went from solitude to 6 months of living with my talkative daughter and her 3 talkative children (add in there screaming, crying, etc.), I completely feel for you. I believe writers do need a distraction-free zone. But your writing hasn’t suffered. It’s wonderful and thought provoking.

    On another note, your husband surpassed the time my ex called me while I was at a friend’s house scrapbooking and needed me to come home because he was so sick he couldn’t open a can of chicken noodle soup. Cereal??? I mean, seriously???? Lol

    Liked by 3 people

  5. My husband asked me the other day to write down how to do the following: laundry, run the dishwasher and pay the bills in case I die because he won’t know how to do anything. Beside the fact that I am five years younger and in better shape, is he not an adult who can figure things out? I then asked him if he had plans I didn’t know about, because to be honest the whole conversation was making me a bit uneasy. He has actually told me that I make a better PB and J than he does and can’t figure it out.
    As far as writing, I like to be by myself in a sunny room in the quiet.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I have an idea! Seriously, I think perhaps you should print out (laminate if you like) lists on how to do various things. Number one, he won’t have any more excuses on not being able to do certain tasks. Secondly, he might actually learn a few things. I had to do this with my younger son. He was clueless. I’d write up a rubric of steps just like he had in his gifted classes for assignments. It step by step showed him how to wash clothes, clean his room ( because for some reason he couldn’t figure that out for himself), and make a few dishes in the kitchen. He must have learned this really well because when he was down for thanksgiving this year he wanted to cook dinner with me. He follows a recipe to the T, whereas I always improvise. He told me, “Mom, please follow the recipe as it’s written, otherwise it won’t taste as good.” I realized then that perhaps I gave him too many lists when he was growing up. Lol 😳 Haha

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s not a bad idea…sort of like the list I would leave for baby/pet sitter. This way can do what needs to be done, and feel confident that they’re doing it right

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, of course, it’s easier to write without distraction, but ensuring you have no distractions is down to how you set your boundaries. Himself doesn’t disturb me when I’m writing, because I let him know that’s what I’m doing. If he needs or wants me for something, he waits till I’m done. It’s simply a matter of respect. If you keep indulging the behaviour, they’ll keep on doing it. And don’t get me started on the whole notion of the helpless male…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think the6 realize they’re doing it. It’s the whole superwoman concept. When you just do what needs to be done, and you don’t complain, they think you can do everything. The past year has shown me that my family had no idea what I did to keep the house running…like cleaning the coffee maker or buying a new litter box every year because they get gross…you know…there’s a post in that

      Liked by 2 people

      1. So true! I was just discussing that with my sister. She got the flu last week and her whole family were helpless. It’s Iike they suddenly were useless. She finally had to make a sign (she lost her voice from being so sick and couldn’t talk) that said, I’m really sick. DO IT YOURSELF!
        I had to do something similar for my older son about baby sitting. I lost it one day and said, “ Honey, I love you, but I didn’t retire to become your AuPair! I’ll be there for you day or night in an emergency. But other than that, let me know in advance and if I’m free that day I’ll baby sit. Otherwise no I won’t. . Boy was he surprised. Husbands and children are so used to us doing everything that they just expect it. Yes, they appreciate us. But, if we don’t remind them now and then that it’s our choice to do something, then they can easily take us for granted.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Well, truth be told we DO know things, because we have figured them out through trial and error or through research. We put in the time! That’s how we know. But, as my youngest son says when he calls me and isn’t feeling well,“ May I speak to Doctor Mom? “ And don’t all of us Dr. Mom’s somehow figure out what to tell our kids? And, We’re usually right ! 😉👍

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Point One – no, there is no post you can possibly write about litter boxes that will enhance your status as one of WP’s top bloggers.

    Two – it’s not just husbands that are selectively useless at stuff, or annoyingly noisy. Living with Julia at times can be like living with a psyops unit. Rustle, rustle, rustle…waits for the important bit of the denouement…chatter, chatter, chatter…
    Pah!

    Three – I generally work in silence(apart from the computer whirring, the fridge humming, a bit of traffic noise and a variety of crows and pigeons. Silence is OK. Music is noise. I can work in noise but prefer not to. I can’t stand working in quiet punctuated by rustling, pointless questions, muttering, tinny voices from phone or tablet – or wife noise, as I think of it.

    Four – my worst enemy is procrastination, eBay, online card games etc. Actually my worst enemy is me, the other things are just the tools with which I torture myself.

    Five – routine? No, if you go down the road of writing clothes, drinks, special spaces and stuff laid out you will end up unable to write without your safety blanket.

    Six – the Kipling you need is a couple of lines from Recessional –

    The tumult and the shouting dies;
    The Captains and the Kings depart:

    Good luck – it is irritating when other people interfere, but you can cope. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Actually, I’d love to
        read a future litter box post. Write it!
        I have the messiest cat on the planet! I used to have three grown cats all use the same box and they were fine. Those kitties all lived to between 18 and 19 years of age. About three years ago I adopted a rescue kitty after a hurricane. (He had a feral mother and was strictly an outdoor cat for his first 5 months) and I rescued him after a storm. I missed having a pet and so I adopted him. He’s a weirdo from being in the wild, but a sweetheart most of the time. However, he’s really gross . He was identified as part Maine Coon and so at age three he is now enormous! Yes he uses the litter box but he is so large that he kicks litter everywhere and sometimes misses the box because he’s too big for it now. I’ve gotten him a large litter box but seriously, he needs his own apartment! I have a queen sized bed and he takes up more than half the bed at night! I named him Mr. Darcy because he’s quite handsome, but what on earth can one do about a messy kitty? Write your blog. I’d love to get some cat tips! 😻

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I thought you locked everyone in the closet to write? 😂
    Seriously though, I think a routine for writing is a must. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I prefer the word ritual to routine when it comes to writing. You just described yours. I dig it!
    As for removing distraction…I mean, even pre covid, before everyone was buzzing around in the same space…there were distractions. For me it’s always a quick google search for research. Or to the dictionary or thesaurus to make sure I’ve got the right word. Rarely do I write without a pause like that.
    But now with all these people and animals in my house, its much trickier to carve out some semi-quiet time to write. I’m actually writing this comment on my phone while Baby K watches Blues Clues and her mom is doing dishes.
    Maybe I need to lock myself in the closet to have quiet writing time? 😘

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. She says to write morning pages as soon as you wake up. It’s three pages of free flowing, unedited thoughts. I keep a journal in my nightstand and have done this every morning for six years. It’s a brain dump to clear out worries and to do lists. Next, I walk three or four miles. Those are two of Cameron’s secrets to creativity. Then a shower and breakfast and I’m ready to sit down and write. I met Ray Bradbury several times at writer’s conferences. His advice was “garbage in, garbage out.” He said to turn off the TV especially news and instead read the Bible, an essay and poem every day.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I like the idea of reading essay a poem and the Bible everyday. While I’m not a Bible reader, I read a page of Simple Abundance every day, and this year I began reading Shakespeare every day …there’s a book that does a passage a day. I also do a modified morning pages every morning. Plus I sort of think of my blog as brain dump because I don’t edit it

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I bought Simple Abundance but haven’t opened it yet. My best friend from college gave me The Artist’s Way and promised me if I followed it, it would be life changing. It’s the first of a trilogy.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Bleu are you super human in the morning? Wow! Im impressed! I’m tired just reading all you do in the AM. I am so not a morning person. I’ll read for inspiration while I have my cup of half caff and write something in the morning but no, I don’t walk after that. I’m usually exhausted after I write. I go to a totally other place when I write, especially fiction. I can do one or the other but not both.

      I’m not one who grabs for the Bible that often unless I’m looking for a specific reference. I’m more about studying the different beliefs of various faiths since biblical interpretations are often very different depending on religious teaching. Same book, totally different interpretations. Especially on their views of women. I am more interested in history and religious traditions. That being said, I’m a very spiritual person. I’ve spent the last year and a half in chemotherapy so faith is indeed important to me. I wake up every day being grateful for being alive.

      I tend to read literature and poetry for profound inspiration. And I quote my favorite poets and writers as often as I can. They are my muses. On good health days I will take an afternoon walk. But never ever could I do that in the morning. I often wish the sun would shine at midnight. My inner clock would make it a much more amiable time to go out for a walk. Lol

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I fade away by four or five in the afternoon! I’ve always been a morning person. I used to put off my homework until early mornings the day when things were due. I have four friends diagnosed with cancer since COVID sheltering in place began. I’m sure your perspective has changed dramatically. I wish you a full recovery and an end to your chemo.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you. Right now I’m doing very well. Going for chemo treatment during a pandemic is certainly a unique experience. I have to admit I sometimes don’t understand people who say they are miserable because they are in quarantine. Heck, if I wake up feeling good I’m thrilled, covid outside or not, I can always think of something to do. Cancer allowed me to realize what a lucky woman I am, and how fortunate I have been. I have two amazing sons and three delicious grandchildren. And had a wonderful 36 year career as a teacher. So I can’t really complain. And how lucky am I that I can get up every day and read LA’s posts? I’d say it’s a win win situation!

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Your writing is always good, and I can’t tell what distractions you endured while writing. This reader is oblivious! I write only when I feel like it, and often the distractions are the subject. Sitting all alone, I wouldn’t have much to write about.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. My best (and favorite) time to write is in the wee hours of the morning…5 AM to 6ish. I am glad you’ve been a consistent writer. I used to be, the first few years I blogged. Not trying to suck up to you, but you are a good writer. Anyone who can consistently post this many thoughtful engaging posts in a row, with the plethora (I like that word ;-)) distractions you’ve listed, has what it takes. DM

    Liked by 4 people

  12. poetry I can write at any time, but the memoir…I wake up Saturday morning before my wife and write before she wakes up, but I can’t write to background music, but not the tv. I will just throw on some noise cancellation headphones. Btw, speaking of your cat.. I drew it..with a link to your blog for a post a few months down the line.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I have to have no distractions. But I also trained my family to leave me alone and be quiet. Plus, I just bought another pair of noise-cancelling headphones. I can hear nothing. I need to hear nothing, not just so I can write, but also so I can do my job, which requires paying attention.

    Did you say he put blueberries in the Cheerios? For why? lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The whole thing started with bananas not being ripe…my husband is not a breakfast eater…he usually has a banana and coffee, but…bananas still green…which started the whole breakup fast scenario

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I am all about eliminating distractions, i squirrel enough without them. I am definitely better at everything when I have a routine. So now with working I can’t seem
    To get into a new routine and I seem to
    Be getting a lot of nothing done!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. When I am writing my blog posts I will listen to ocean sounds on YouTube and that helps me to completely block out the outside world. It doesn’t matter what’s going on around me so long as I have the ocean sounds on nothing distracts me.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. LA, your writing is always good, distractions or not. I think everyone’s routine is different, some people can block out chaos, others can’t. I don’t really have a ritual or a routine, although I try and be at my desk (dining room table) by 12:30, then write for 3-4hours (max), maybe a break midway for a snack, and then go for a walk before supper. The walk clears my head, and I can think about what I just wrote. I prefer silence, but have written in noise. I’m not a morning person, although I do find mornings good for creativity if I’m up early…my brain has been thinking subconsciously overnight. LOL re hubby with the cheerios!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I’m so easily distracted in the past few years that I definitely need solitude to read and write productively. I enjoy a little CALM music and my diffuser, but that’s about all the distractions I can tolerate.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Interesting to ponder, LA. I’ve written in both types of situations. In the former, distractions aplenty, I was always able to be productive. However, in the latter, no one to distract me, I get a lot more done, and, even think, have more insights about my current and future writing. Maybe there’s a balance in between the two somewhere?

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I can shut out distractions, but not interruptions which is more what you are getting. I write short things–book review length. If I were writing a novel, something where things had to link together and I had to be sure characters were consistent, I think I would have a harder time with both distractions and interruptions. I think you are amazingly productive with your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. With my posts I’m pretty much aiming for fun or sheer enjoyment of writing a few hundred words as opposed to be perfect. My blog isn’t supposed to give me stress

      Liked by 1 person

  20. …I want your last year’s writing routine!!!!

    I find I am unable to write well with the distractions around. Plenty of your comments said so as well. I can hit a similar level of quality if I at least get ideas down, then return and edit, then again, then again. Writing opinions and observations is easy, light, quick, and doesn’t require much in the ways of quality. For deeper stories, like my “https://chelowens.com/2021/01/17/tell-me-the-story-daddy/,” I need to be inspired by something great and to remove the surrounding noises.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I have tons of distractions here too which I didn’t have before the lockdown pandemic. I now cull moments of time when all is quiet, sometimes even getting up early before everyone else so that I can just be in my own zone with my coffee in silence. I’d imagine that even if the humans in your house were asleep, the pets aren’t so that may not work for you. I think we can adapt and have to adapt as changes unfold. It’s just not always pleasant. I will say that your blog posts are still amazing so you’ve adapted quite well! :). Good for you!!

    Liked by 2 people

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