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Distractions

I am an old-school writer. Or I just have ADD.  … Or maybe it’s both. Okay, focus.

I love notebooks. Spiral-bound. About half the size of a normal sheet of paper. Like this one:

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I especially like the cover of that one. These notebooks are among my favorite things. I have too many to count, shoved in drawers and closets or on shelves all around the house. Some may have a few unmarked pages left, but most are filled to their edges with words. I audibly gasped and, according to the Girl, turned white as a ghost, the other day when she picked up one from my nightstand and opened it.

“You should never, ever do that,” ebbed from my lips.
“Do what?” she asked innocently, closing and placing the notebook down.
“Open one of my notebooks without asking,” was my somewhat strangled reply. All the breath had left me.

Funny thing was, the notebook was empty. Oh, how I love fresh notebooks. But the thought of her seeing my words nearly gave me a heart attack. As a writer, I want my words to be read, but only when I’m ready. What’s in my notebook isn’t ready yet. It’s still … cooking … not yet ready to be tasted.

But why notebooks? Why is that my preferred method of writing? Though I’ll write until my arm aches, I prefer creating in longhand. I read something years ago about how the process of handwriting invokes creative processes in one’s brain. And it’s really true for me. I’ve tried to explain before how I’m really a “thinker” because I’m always writing in my head but so rarely get those words on paper. The Writer’s Circle page on Facebook shared this pic today:

The Writer's Circle.
The Writer’s Circle.

But I am more likely to get them out in longhand than typed (at least initially).  So maybe that’s it; my creative processes require it.  Or, more likely, I just can’t handle distractions.

Ever since I decided to jump, I’ve had several planned writing days. I get up with one goal: write something. I’ve been teetering back and forth over whether to write something short, like an article or personal essay, and submit for publication; or to make actual progress on one of the many books that have been “works in progress” for most of my life. On these planned writing days, I always start the same way: by sitting down at my laptop ready, willing and rearing to go. And I always end up, hours later, having written nothing, submitted nothing, progressed nothing. Why? Distractions.

A major distraction as of late had to do with the hacking of my personal blog. It was a painful and cumbersome process, but after days (weeks?) of frustration, the blog is clean and running securely again.

But distractions don’t have to be major, to throw me off course. This wonderful thing called the Internet (which I truly believe is wonderful) pulls me away from writing so easily with simple day to day items. I sit down with my laptop and then … SQUIRREL!  It all starts with email. I check it and remember a thousand little things I need to do: finishing editing those chapters for a colleague, return that book to Amazon (which technically hubs should be doing since he ordered it by mistake), pay those bills, and so on and so forth. Then, my phone dings with a text or Facebook notification. Next thing I know, I’ve pointed my browser to Facebook because the laptop screen is bigger than my phone screen (seriously, I am NOT. THAT. OLD. as we’ve established so I don’t know what the deal is with my eyes) … and down the rabbit hole I go.

Here’s another recent share from The Writer’s Circle on Facebook:

The Writer's Circle.
The Writer’s Circle.

I could replace “Watch YouTube videos” with “Read other blogs” or “Search internet for [X]” or even sometimes “Write fanfiction” (it’s easier to write because the characters are already developed). And I could clarify “Stare into space” as “Daydream an entire book in my head, forgetting that the words won’t magically appear on screen.” Seriously, I had to go sit at McDonald’s (it’s close to my house and they have dollar sodas) the other day with my notebook just to get some writing done.

So, how do you deal with distractions? How do you get the words on paper? (I mean, aside from the obvious.) I read somewhere recently about a program that deletes your work if you pause for too long … maybe that’s more motivating and beneficial than I can imagine, but I just keeping thinking that distraction would lead to anger … at the app … at myself. And, this I know for certain: anger is a major distraction to creativity.

So, for now, I guess I’ll stick to my notebooks. And lots of pencils. Did I mention I got an electric pencil sharpener for Christmas and it’s the bomb? Really. I can sit for hours just sharpening pencils and listening to that sound … um, yeah, distractions.

Published inWriting

2 Comments

  1. Ha! I have that notebook! From Target, yes? I like narrow ruled notebooks and needlepoint gel pens, and I write 3 pages of longhand every day – the whole Artist’s Way Morning Pages thing. My day just doesn’t seem to work properly when I don’t 🙂 Glad to find another paperaholic like me 🙂

    • stephhwilliams stephhwilliams

      Yay! Paper rules! 🙂 I’ll have to look into this Artist’s Way Morning Pages thing. Thanks for reading!

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