When the only option left is to write.

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Writing corneredDid you read my subhead above? (The one about distraction.) Surely, writers are the masters of appointing distraction as priority of the moment. It’s that wretched blank page that has become a fearsome addled, yet still wantonly creative, space that draws you. The calling has you, and probably since before you can remember.

Some writers are masters of their To Do lists, even Yours Truly (shock, amazement here). I call my distractions my To Do’s because, hey, that just sounds a whole lot better. I’m so To Do list organized, I even have an app for that. Yes, I did try using the Reminder List courtesy of the iPhone, but when that started growing a tail I couldn’t see the end of, it was time to box up every worry, concern, want, and administrative mom duty into something visually manageable.

And then, the inevitable happened. My To Do’s became my distraction instead of having them encased all appealingly well so as not to be.

What the flip?

While checking the day’s can’t-forget-abouts is handy in the morning, and wishful planning adds more check boxes often in the evening, there does come a time when the honeymoon is over –boredom with organization. Sometimes super management does its job; it frees up that last and most viable excuse to write: there is time.

What?? Time? What’s that?

Here’s where you add scary to the description of the job of writing. Because now, you’re all out of excuses, and what is cornered for attention is writing.

For the moment, anyway.

The Writer’s Call

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What inspires you

To write to scribe

What moves your Source

She calls

Crawls

Writhes

Down your arm

Past fingertips to

What ails you

Time

Keeps you confined

Before markings

Down avenues of unknowns

What conspires you

 ~~

 

That Kind of Day

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When you have one of those days…it starts out with more than one friend calling, each with a stress story to tell, the day’s gorgeous, but the glare induces a headache, several projects are mid-way through, but feel miles from being finished, and the cork board is a mass of multi-coloured pins buried beneath bills, reminders, and that one thing you’ve resisted doing for, like, a year, and you sit, and sigh heavily, feeling the weight of it all, and dream up various sorts of momentary escapisms, the best of which might be to return to bed, but you don’t, because even a faux schedule is better than nothing, and it’s more fun to interject the hours with poignant writings that fill pages in your journal, and it’s finally at that point that you feel a tad accomplished, slightly more than what you’d feel by having cleared off your desk, and you return again to that very desk, warmed by tea, and with the prospect of a fresh new start tomorrow…you share it.

The Effects of Being a Writer

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• When you think you have nothing to say, you write. You write anyway because you must. It’s all you do when you don’t sleep.

• You keep on writing because you never know just what’s going to pop out of that head of yours. Whoa! There it goes again! Write that down!

• You know you are a writer when it takes you three times longer to fidget posting a blog than to actually write it.

(reprinted from @racheledits Twitter account, with permission by the author.) Oh, wait. That’s me!

Commitment and the Writer

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Not to sound too philosophical about this topic, but there’s more behind the scenes, to use an idiom, than what might come to mind about the phrase ‘writing commitment’. This begs the question, of course, of what is that? Exactly? It means whatever you want it to mean –for you. Everyone’s writing commitment is different, in terms of how much time spent on it, how much research to go into it, when you can schedule, and how on earth you’re going to make your writing time distraction free.

There is no right answer here. There is one thing you need to do. There. I just made it super easy for you and now you can sigh in relief.

I lied. It’s one easy thing divided into parts.

My build-up to this easy thing is to say stop thinking about the distractions. We do allow ourselves all the distractions required for them to become our excuses to not write. There are more reasons why we don’t, but if we think about it like that, then we’re staying in the non-writing stage.

The point is to write.

For every up there is a down. For every distraction there is a focus.

Focusing your attention on the focusing on your writing is a long-winded way to say that focus is really the opposite of distraction. Part of that focusing means culling those distraction to a minimum. No, you don’t need to answer that call this very minute, no the dishes can wait (for those writing at home), no, your kid will not starve not having a snack when he or she whines for one right at that exact time you’ve sat down with your fingers hovering over the keyboard, ready to write –at last. Something comes up, something always does. They will continue to do so as long as we stay conditioned to diverting our attention away from our writing.

It’s also about priorities.

Committing to your writing truly means making it a priority in your life in as much as brushing your teeth every day; I promise this lecture is almost done.

So, is committing to writing more than just focusing? Yes.

It’s really about making writing your habit rather than that something special that you try to squeeze in. It’s backwards that way. Everything else should squeeze around your writing.

Committing to writing is about knowing yourself, too, and knowing what is conducive to supporting you to write at your best. Okay, so my mornings start out with an earl grey tea latte skinny. That’s my routine, and after the morning rush of carpooling and errands, I have my tea. It’s my signal to myself that I’m writing.

Well, I’m writing all the time, in my head, and so are you, but it’s no good there unless you’re an oral storyteller, like our predecessors. Your thoughts must leap from your brain to the page. Culling the distractions to focus on your writing by making it a priority, and engineering writing as a habit are the make-up of what that commitment to writing means.

End of lecture. Happy writing!

The Distracted Writer

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Holidays aren’t enough. Kids aren’t enough. Mechanical issues with appliances lure writers away from their choice seat. Obviously it’s okay to pile on more. Distractions. We tell ourselves that. There’s always tomorrow.

It’s really a bad habit. Half-written stories, manuscripts in the drawer unsent, journals forgotten with worthwhile gems lodged in their pages —

That’s exactly my point.

Most things can wait, though. It’s our writing that shouldn’t. Our time lines are usually our own, and arbitrarily made, but we allow distractions to happen, don’t we?

Writers can be the best excuse-makers.

Our attention is pulled from our writing all too often. We become our routines, and soon enough writing eeks out its existence on the edges of our schedule (ooh, did you notice all that assonance?).

See? I just did it. I moved from the idea of distraction to a grammatical term most are unfamiliar with, unless you count all the English teachers out there, and the linguists who sport with such terms because they can.

The negative side of having distractions is obvious. The writing stagnates. Ideas hover at dead-ends. The writer’s oomph dissipates. Not. Good. For. Writer.

A positive that could be said is that the distracted writer’s mind is quick, and open to possibilities, a mind ripe for ideas because any distraction, routined or not, is fodder for future writing. All of life is, then, isn’t it? Life is our inspiration. So, one could argue, distractions become a good thing, and the distracted writer, a good one. When. Writer. Sits. In. Seat.

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Write, Seriously

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Run, run, run…around
Easy to dance the must-do-list
No Stop Breathe
When conditioned
No Dishes Ignore Them
One Thing At A Time
Forget laundry
Ignore better

Curtains pulled aside
Blue sky deceptive
Only in the hand-span depth from the pane
Morning’s warmth is captured

Rooftops on nearby houses tell of January’s nature
Frost makes for furry topped posts and beams

Heard the term “laptop hobo” yesterday
Today I want to be one
Join the cafe buzz
Be vampiric with their energies

Sip lattes all day
Write seriously