Friday, 8 April 2011

Rules Of Distraction

By Richard Jay Parker

There's an apocryphal story about Hollywood studios always giving their sitcom development staff writers two year contracts. The reason being because after a year of distraction and long lunches, in the second year they have nothing better to do than write a sitcom.

I like to think I could probably spend two years being distracted and having lunch but I know that my ITM (inner taskmaster) would be a buzzkill.

People are always interested in writers' work routines - particularly if they do it from home. 'I'd just get distracted' is what a lot of people say.

It's true, there are many drawbacks to working from home and resisting the temptation to get waylaid by chores pending is certainly a mindset you have to master.

Iain Banks has two computers in his office -one for emails and one for writing. You can see the sense of that. I'd need a third one for Twitter.

But it's that ITM that you have to cultivate the most. It's your voice, guilt and ambition all rolled into one.

I'm lucky to have an office to write in with a decent view out of the window. In my London address I had next door's brick wall to look at. Having a pleasant space that you can treat as your work environment helps enormously.

But whether you have a designated writing chamber/sensory deprivation tank or are snatching moments when you can using your lap as a desk it's only the ITM that can carry you through to the last page.

As your thought processes move through the planning stage into familiar procrastination territory you'll notice its voice gets louder.

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  1. Nearly all of my writing is done at my day job during a ten hour shift in a failing business. When I do try to write at home I spend 30 minutes cleaning the living room so its pristine because clutter bogs me down (and I generally have a *lot* of research / books around me that take up the space!).

    Environment definitely plays a role.

  2. My kids are at school for 6 hours so this is my time. I have a lovely view of my garden, peace and quiet... so why am I social networking! I try to stop before lunch hits, but i's 12:30 so I'm breaking my own rule. Good thing I don't hate myself for my relaxed habits. that is what it boils down to. If you get angery because you didn't reach your 1000 word a day goal, then you'll hate writing. If you hate yourself because you were caught starring out the window again then you'll hate writing. If you can't handle the pressure of a deadline then don't make one (of course you could lose a deal this way) What I'm saying is this: if you want to write you'll do it when it feels good.

  3. Thanks, Ninetwelve. I'm the same - I don't feel creative amidst clutter. I know some writers who thrive on it though.

    Hi, Phyllis. The key is to enjoy it. Sounds like you have a good attitude and balance. Thanks for dropping by.