What Constitutes a Distraction?

Over the past few months I have let a multitude of things take time away from my writing. I have three adorable dogs, a feisty cat and an adoring husband. I have a best friend, who is also an author, that loves to drag me off to do any number of fun things. I have a close-knit family that demands my time. But I cannot label any of them distractions. I have a life outside of my writing.

So, what constitutes a distraction?

My husband and I had this discussion last night. I told him I needed to focus on my writing. He lovingly reminded me that we had no food in the house and a trip to the grocery store was more important. I jokingly said, “There you go, distracting me again.”

He rolled his eyes and grabbed his keys. “You always say that to me.”

It’s true. I tend to say that often, even when I don’t really mean it. I realized I may be making him feel unwanted, possibly even unloved. It made me want to clarify what I deemed a distraction.

I have my own library, and while that is a wonderful thing, it rarely offers the solitude I need in order to write productively. My dogs do not like being banned from whatever space I am in. They will whine, bark and try to scratch their way through the door. If allowed into the room, they want to be the center of attention, many times planting themselves between me and whatever I am focused on at the time. Then, if my husband is home, he likes to be in whatever space I am occupying (I know, it’s tooth-achingly sweet, right) and I love that about him, but he also wants to talk to me. Doesn’t matter what I am doing. He will plop himself in the floor and strike up a conversation. (He loathes silence.)  Yet, I love his company and never want to kick him out. Plus, even as a non-reader, he is very good at helping me overcome my writers block. He can talk me through any issue I am having. He can help me see it from a new perspective. He has given me insight on character development and how to break down a scene to make it work. He even came up with the title for my book. However, there are times when I need it to be only me and my pen, or computer. I need the solitude, the quiet space, to let my words flow.

Another huge distraction for me is my cell phone. I never get calls or texts until I boot up my computer. While I love that everyone, and their dog, now wishes to communicate with me, I have now decided “blackout times” are my only option. Having a close-knit family, we are in constant communication. I have sisters, nieces, nephews. I have loving friends who wish to share their every move with me. I adore this about every one of them. I wouldn’t change it. But now, I post on Facebook when I am going “dark”. I still end up with multiple texts, tags and calls but they know I will get back to them when the “blackout” is over.

Family (even fur-babies) and friends, need to know they are still a priority in a writers life, but I have found that telling them you need time for your craft is something they understand. Some will even be excited that you have taken the time to truly focus and finish what you are currently working on.

So, what constitutes a distraction? Honestly, whatever you let be a distraction. That book you’ve been reading. The noises outside your window. The dogs trying to claw their way through your door. Your husbands hesitant knock on your office door.

Set your boundaries. Let people know when you need alone time, but don’t let the word “distraction” stop you from caring for the people around you.

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