The last couple of weeks have been a bit disruptive. I’ve had contractors putting on a new roof and another lot of contractors building a new fence – all ordered by the landlord. What this has all added up to is a major distraction from writing. Let’s face it. Who could concentrate with all the banging, crashing, and sawing going on?

Some writers like to have music going in the background when they’re in the ‘zone’. My preference is for absolute peace and quiet. Especially when I’m getting started. Once I’m on a roll, so to speak, I can get so deep into the work that I barely notice anything else going on. It’s that initial period that can prove difficult.

Sometimes when I’m trying to write, it reminds me of the day about three months ago when I went out whale watching, which to me is a lot like fishing (which I find incredibly boring). We were basically sitting waiting for something to happen and when the whale did appear, there wasn’t really much to show for it. Like staring at a screen, waiting for the words to come, and getting nowhere. It’s not necessarily writer’s block, but more a tendency to let those distractions allow you to procrastinate.

Speaking of writer’s block, I saw a post on a writer’s group on social media the other day asking if writer’s block was a real thing. It’s defined as: ‘the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing’. One commenter felt there was no such thing. Personally, I think you can get a block on what you’re currently working on, but there is a way around it. When other writers ask for advice on how to get over the block I tell them just to write. It doesn’t matter if it makes no sense, or doesn’t fit with whatever story/piece you’re working on. That’s where distractions can sometimes help. If you’re stuck for an idea, or are unable to think of a particular term, distract yourself with something else, even if it’s another piece you’ve been putting off. I have so many different pieces I’m working on that I know if I get stuck on my current work, I just need to go look at another piece and see if that prompts anything. It doesn’t even have to follow on from where I’m at, as long as it is writing.

I have to be honest. Journalism might look hard, but it’s actually a lot easier than fiction writing. Once you’ve done your interviews, you have it all there. You just need to write it all up so it not only makes sense, but in such a way that it’s interesting to your readers. Having all those facts in front of you also makes it easier to move on to something else if you’re waiting for another person to rebut anything within the article. In fiction writing, you start with a basic plot, but you still need to know something about the subject in order for your readers to relate. It’s not as easy as it looks. You basically have to be your own expert witness, so to speak, putting yourself in the mind of your characters. You need to focus. Distractions can break that focus.

Which brings me back to the general theme of this post. Distractions are annoying. Just don’t let them be an excuse to procrastinate.

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