I don’t have children. I do have a cat and two dogs. One of those dogs, Kona, is a 60 pound puppy that needs almost constant attention. When she’s not stealing notepads off my desk or chewing a pen until it bleeds ink, she’s disturbing the peace by barking, whining, crying and moaning. We’ve had her for almost 6 months; I adore her. But having a member of the household going through their terrible twos is not exactly conducive to writing of any kind, let alone writing fiction.
I am reminded of Robert Olen Butler saying “there is no excuse not to write.” I would like to invite Mr. Butler over for a cup of tea in my office, and see how long it takes for my dear Kona to knock it into his lap.
Before Kona, the only animal distraction was Zoe (meow) attacking the wadded paper that had missed the trash can. Now she is as annoyed as I am, and can be heard screeching across the kitchen multiple times a day, throwing kitty-slurs in all directions.
Command That Which Taunts You
R.O.B. is right, there is no excuse. There are, however, a thousand distractions against which a writer must develop an arsenal of good habits. Writing everyday has brought me to the conclusion that, if writing is to be a top priority, all other things must be stifled. I, for one, can’t write if there are things nipping at my ankles or chores nagging for completion. Things must be addressed, not out of des peration, but out of life management.
But distractions are a gift, there is no denying. Whenever I sit at my desk uninterrupted for more than an hour or two, I start running into myself over and over.
Actively Not Thinking
Also, the best ideas come when you’re not thinking at all. And for me, the best zone-out time is when doing remedial tasks. Doing the dishes is my favorite time to let my brain storm on its own. I get some pretty interesting solutions to blocks when I’m cooking, too. Things have a way of working themselves out mentally when you’re working with your hands, I’ve found.
Balance is the only way for me to write well. I used to have these visions of myself holed up in an cramped office for days, mugs of cold coffee everywhere leaving rings. But that isn’t how I do my best work. So I thank the distractions, and manage to fold them into the work at hand.