Distractions, are they always a bad thing?

You would think, given the very short amount of time I actually have in which to write, I would use it wisely. Well, you’d be WRONG.

I know I have a very limited time to get my words down, especially as it’s now the summer holidays and I have two kidlets to entertain and yet I struggle to stay focussed. Some days I sit down to write and I’m lucky if … Ooh Tom Hiddleston.

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See.

And it seems the less time I have, the worse I am at allowing any small distraction eat my time.

Like watching this cutie.

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A couple of months ago I spent a few days spamming a friends inbox with various pictures. Why?

Because I was avoiding writing. Because it was easier to search the internet for good looking men than face the corner I’d written myself into (I hadn’t written myself into a corner at all, I was simply too afraid to write the next few scenes). I used the distractions as an excuse to dodge something I was finding difficult and this is when it becomes a problem.

Recognising the self-sabotage I gave myself an allotted amount of time where I could take a step back and breathe. I allowed myself time away from the work but I started to use my time a little more wisely. I swapped silly gifs and gorgeous men for reading.

After a couple of days I pushed through my self-imposed block and finished up the book but I would have competed months earlier had I just sat and wrote.

But this is life. I’m not paid to write nor do I have to work to deadlines. This is a hobby therefore I can occasionally let distractions get in the way. Yes I would have finished my book weeks before I did had I not messed around, but so what?

I’m writing because I love it. At times it’s hard and I need a break but isn’t that the same with everything? I love my job but I still look forward to my holidays. I live for my kids but when they have a night at Grandma’s it’s amazing.

So how do you deal with the distractions?

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In all seriousness I found Nanowrimo helped. The word sprints in particular. I was able to complete the fifty-thousand word challenge in what was one of my busiest months because I had focus. I had a goal to aim towards. I doubt I could keep that up long term but I took away some very helpful strategies from the experience.

Now when I feel I haven’t progressed as much as I should, I set myself a target for the day/week. Sometimes it’s as small as completing the chapter I’m working on words and that’s just fine. As long as it moves me forward I consider it a success. Sometimes my goal is to edit three chapters before the end of the month.

But again, I am not a paid author, I don’t have deadlines so I tend not to worry too much. Okay, last month I wrote twenty-thousand and this month I’ve struggled to make two-thousand, what does it matter? I’m reading, I’m writing and I’m living.

And there’s the point of this post. Distractions are not always the work of the devil. Some have given me some wicked plot bunnies (thank you Lady Gaga) and some have taken my mind off things for a while. Life really is for living – be that writing three chapters a day or messing around with gifs of cute animals – whatever your choice, as long as you are enjoying what you’re doing then I say go for it.

Of course, this is just my opinion and I’m not talking about people trying to make a living from their writing. I’m talking about people, like myself, who write for enjoyment. Maybe I would have written seven books in the last year without distractions, but I would have missed out on so many other life enriching things. Like this man and his band:

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(Credit to bastillean )

So no, I don’t think distractions are always a bad thing, just try not to let them stand in your way.

Are you a good writer?

 

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I stumbled upon this blog post and found myself nodding vigerously at the screen as I finished yet anoter cup of tea.

I have seen many authors on Wattpad asking for critiques but what they actually want is to increase their read count, they aren’t in the least bit interested in improving their skills. Some have even gone so far as to get aggressive with the person offering advice (after they asked for it, no less).

I understand that it’s hard to have your hard work put down and I know what it’s like, I’ve had my work critiqued many times.  Yes, sometimes it stings, but how can you hope to improve if you don’t know what you need to work on? Of course, subjectivity plays a part but if you have three people independently agreeing on an area they think you need to work on, chances are, they’re right.

So, do you fall under the category of being a ‘good writer’?

Who I am and why I hide behind a screen name …

To start off my blog journey I decided to explain a little about myself and why (for the moment) I write anonymously.

I’m a thirty-something married mum who lives in the heart of Yorkshire in the UK. I have no formal writing qualifications and have never been published (Wattpad doesn’t count) but I love writing. I started writing about twenty years ago – nothing awe inspired or ground breaking (quite the opposite actually) but it was my first step down this road. I dabbled and played, never taking it seriously, always just for fun.

Then, eight years ago I started writing a book. I didn’t know it was going to be a book; I didn’t even have a plot, just a general idea that I chased down the rabbit hole. I followed that little bunny until I had myself an eighty-thousand-word manuscript.

It was a hard time in my life when things weren’t easy. Personal circumstances meant I had a lot of free time cushioned by periods of incredibly high stress and harrowing emotional events. During the quiet times I had nothing to do but think, and as we all know, that’s never a good thing.

So I started to write. I wrote when no one was around. I wrote to escape the trauma of life. I wrote to fill the time. But I did it all in secret.

Why?

At this point, my entire life was being lived without a lot of privacy. Family, friends and my husband as well as all kind of health care professionals were in and out and I had nothing to myself. I didn’t intentionally set out to write nor did I make a conscious decision to keep it quiet but maybe at this point I needed something that was just for me.

And then there’s the universal reason, the one that keeps many writers safely fastened in our closets. Fear. I didn’t want people knowing because I was afraid they’d laugh at me.

My husband is a very practical man who works with his hands. He is not creative (he’s the first to admit this) and so he wouldn’t understand the joy I get from immersing myself in a world I created and playing with my characters. If I told him my characters talked to me he’s have me sectioned (not really but he’d definitely be checking the wine bottle for signs of wear and tear!). The escapism of a good book is foreign to him so how could I ever hope to get him to understand? And truth be told, there are times I know he would throw it in my face. I couldn’t explain to him that the housework hadn’t been done because I got lost in a chapter, not when he’d been at work all day, slaving to earn money, he just wouldn’t get it. So I took the easy way out and I wrote in silence.

Let’s fast-forward eight years. Here I am, older, possibly a little wiser and having discovered the joy of people actually reading my work. I have posted on Wattpad and have enjoyed the thrill of strangers seeing my work.

But I still haven’t really come out of the closet. I’ve made some wonderful friends online (some of whom now know my true identity) and one of those has actively encouraged me to reveal my big secret but something is holding me back.

Now, I’m not as secretive as I once was. Last year on a weekend retreat with my dear old mum I confessed. I cringed as I told her but even worse was when she started reading my book. Thankfully she lost interest after the first chapter or so (it’s really not her kind of book) but still, to suddenly have my comfort blanket whipped out of my hands was a terrifying experience.

Next I got up the courage to give my book to a friend. This friend was supportive and has kept my sordid little secret but even she hasn’t read the manuscript in its entirety. So what could I draw form these two experiences? Well the first is that my giant secret really isn’t that interesting to anyone else and I’m clearly making a big deal over something insignificant. The second, my book is simply no good. Either way, it doesn’t matter because I found the root of my problem – the reason for my anonymity.

I can’t write freely knowing that someone might read what I’ve written. No, I need to security that comes with a protective wall. I can cope with criticism, I can handle rejection BUT it has to be in private.

Too much of my life has been public property and whilst my writing is something I want seen, I’m not prepared to step out of the shadows. So for now, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, he’ll come out when he’s ready.