Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Writing Distractions

All writers have their quirks...it's why they write. Somewhere, something deep down compels them to share the uncharted, dark recesses of their minds with others. Their thoughts on life, morality, politics, religion, and other concepts come to life through their characterizations, plots, and themes.

As far as quirks go, I have plenty of them. I wrote over the weekend about how my writing process is like Reggie Miller. I would certainly think that someone who compares his or her writing process to a former NBA superstar definitely has quirks.

Perhaps one of the hardest things for writers to overcome is distractions. They come at you from everywhere--YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, TV, sports, outside sounds and noises. Eliminating these distractions can be a challenge.

Some writers like to write to music; I thrive on complete and utter silence. For the most part, I can't stand to have any background noise when I'm working on a story. If I'm working on a short story or novel, I need silence. I need to be alone.

Like all great rules, there are some exceptions. For example, as I'm writing this, my wife is watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in the other room. That show is Kryptonite for my writing process. It's not a bad show--Buffy has legions upon legions of devoted fans--but I don't watch it. It's not Kryptonite because I'm so enamored with the show that I can't tear my eyes away from it; it's Kryptonite because it is a distraction. And it doesn't have to be Buffy on the TV in the other room...it can be any other TV program.

The "silence" rule applies to my creative writing. When I'm writing a blog post like I am right now, I can work with the sound distraction in the background. For some reason, the part of my brain that conjures characters and stories requires silence to be at its most fertile. No matter how hard I try, I can't block out the noise when I'm revising a story or writing it.

When I do try to block out the sound, I'll throw on some earphones and listen to music. However, the music can't have any lyrics. My best defense against outside distractions is symphonic/orchestral music, and even then, it's only partially effective.

I am at my most productive when I'm alone, which means I write a lot when I come home from work (I work second shift and get home around 11:30 every night). My wife also works on the weekends and that's another productive time for me (especially once college and pro football are over).

What about you? Do you have any writing quirks/distractions that interfere with your best work? How do you conquer them?