Republished for those of you who didn’t know me then. Plus, since the first posting I’ve completed and published three books. Two more are near completion.
I am writing this morning.
I made sure everything was done in advance. I showered, shaved, dressed. I spent an hour with my Father-God. Then I ate. All this before my preset writing time which begins and 8AM and runs until 12-1PM. I even had Scrivener opened to the book I am working on and my Ideas binder opened as well. Then it started–as always! Distraction!!
Of course, it wasn’t the usual distraction. It never is. No, I saw a moth. Naturally, I could not allow it to keep fluttering around the window. So I grabbed my electronic insect swatter and zapped him into oblivion. Then I was getting ready to put the swatter back when it occurred to me that I hadn’t checked the batteries since last year (I don’t use the swatter during the winters in NH; I specify the state only because if you’re from Florida, you might consider it odd that I don’t use the swatter in the winter. NH bugs hide or come out in the summer.). Anyhow.
I checked the battery compartment and all seemed well. No leakage. So I put the electronic swatter back where I keep it close under my computer desk. Then I realized I needed to relieve myself of some of my morning coffee. So it was off to the loo. When I returned, I thought I was ready to begin. So I sharpened two pencils that didn’t need sharpening. And now I’m writing. And if you’ve gotten this far . . . You’re reading.
What’s with that? Why do we procrastinate? Fluff the nest? Circle around like a dog, five times to finally give in to the need, then plop down? I don’t have answers to this question. I hope you do because I expect you to comment and give us your best shot at what’s really going on.
Is it our natural curiosity? If it were just me that experienced this pre-writing distraction, I wouldn’t be writing this to ask you about it. I’d simply assume I’m weird, keep it to myself (except at readings), and that’s the end of the matter. But, I’ve read enough in the craft to know that this is a universal, systemic behavior. No, a plague.
I’m not alone. Others have spoken or written about this. But I’ve not really been satisfied with an answer that hits the bullseye. Why do writers/authors have to balance the checkbook, sort through old work, sharpen pencils, adjust the chair or organize the desktop before they begin to put words to paper/screen?
Is it fear? Are we afraid that when we finally do sit to face the blank sheet/screen, we won’t have anything to say? Are we afraid to get into the flow. I LOVE being in the flow . . . So it can’t be that. So what is it? Once we know its source, we can either get past it (or as CK writes–Work it).
QUESTION: What is writers’ distraction?
A HELPFUL RESOURCE: This week I received word that Jerry Jenkins, author of Writing for the Soul–and someone well known to many other faith based writers through the “Christian Writers’ Guild”–has tackled this topic in a recent post. I went to his site where he has written an excellent post: “How to Overcome Writer’s Block Once and For All: My Surprising Solution.” I included the link to the post as an added resource for us all. I’m sure it will be helpful. Though he invites you to join his mentoring group, it is not a requirement to read the post and other helpful resources on his new site.
HONESTY DISCLOSURE: The link above is not an affiliate link, but I may receive a small, premium for including his post in my list of resources on this page. It in no way affects you or your reading of his post.
© 2013, David C. Alves
- The Keys to Worry Free Writing (thewritersadvice.com)
- How it happens (bechereremily.wordpress.com)
- Confession: I’m a distracted writer (mimosamorningswriters.wordpress.com)
- Distractions- Work Your Distractions (catherinekanewrites.wordpress.com)
- Cloud-Based Environment Reduces Distractions For Aspiring Writers (psfk.com)
- ✎ 15 Wallpapers for Writers (plottingbunnies.wordpress.com)
Recently, I was interviewed by my brother on “The Ken Zone”–a local cable program broadcast in Western Massachusetts.
I share what I’ve gleaned from my research, study, and My 10 Best Resources on the Islamization of the World. Most of what I share was taught by those Muslims who have escaped Islam’s grip and share at the risk of their lives.
I’ve been an author/writer for years. Since my early years at college and following my Bread Loaf School of English courses, I’ve worked quietly and consistently–plugging away at my vocation. Little known, but read by a small and faithful tribe.
Every writer or author I know (and I know many) writes to be read. He writes to communicate. She usually has something to say.
Some write for self-gratification. Others seek recognition, perhaps for a cause or personal fame. Some hope to make a living at it. Some write to change their tribe or the world. Most write because–know it or not–they have an innate desire to create.
I write because my Father is an author. And His writing has changed my life forever. I know the power of words. I’ve tasted the power of His Word. I’ve experienced the effect of words from both sides–changing and being changed. And I want to see lives changed for the better.
Though many writers may not know or acknowledge it, this subconscious, creative drive to write is in them because they are made in the image of God–who is Creator. Consciously, we all do it because wonderful rewards come from both the finished work and the process itself. Here are some of the rewards for writing well which I’ve been able to identify.
Many write just to write, but writing well can end in recognition. I’m not convinced that those who set out to be recognized get recognized, but it can end up being one of the rewards. Especially for those who write well.
Recognition can lead to influence. Perhaps they desire to influence history or simply a few souls. It can also lead to the next reward.
Some of us go on to receive remuneration. Perhaps we don’t make our living at our writing–though undoubtedly some do–but we receive some form of remuneration. For my first published writing, I received only experience. Then, mugs, thanks, and more assignments. Once editors know that you will deliver and that you meet your deadlines without excuse, invitations increase.
For a while, I wrote for an online magazine that paid nicely and gave me regular work (until the editor left and the new one went in a different editorial direction. It happens). But remuneration–payment–can be a huge motivator and reward.
Joy in the Process
Being in the zone is a great reward of writing well. I love “the zone” I enter when writing. Everything else kind of fades away. My writing mentor–Ron Hansen–once told me, “David, turn off the editor, teacher, preacher, critic, and simply tell the story you have to tell.” Don’t be the perfectionist at the first draft stage. That can come later.
Jeff Goins once gave the same advice. That first write is such a creative act. Just get it out! And when I’m doing it well, I’m in the zone. Perfectly at peace, I’m writing what flows. Sometimes I may need to stop and mull things over, but I try to just keep going.
By the time I’m through, reentry is always amazing. Twenty minutes or several hours may have passed. Then I leave the work. Coming back to it later, I’m always amazed at the material I have to work with. Editing is its own kind of enjoyment for some of us. Hell for others. But nothing tops being in the zone or flow.
Satisfaction at a job well done
Good writers take great satisfaction at a job well done. They love the feeling of reading the finished work. Hearing themselves read to others and having them feedback is almost always rewarding.
I love knowing I’ve done my best. I enjoy knowing that something I wrote worked something good in someone else. That brings us to the superlative reward for writing as a believer.
A reader once told me that my first book literally changed his life. He has a whole new perspective on his value to God. If I never wrote another thing, that would be enough reward for me. Another reader, and friend, actually adopted a child on the basis of something I wrote. It doesn’t get any better for me. Not money, not fame or notoriety, not awards can compete with the joy that comes hearing you’ve altered someone’s life for the better.
I’m sure I’ve left out other rewards for writing well, but these are some of which I’m aware. I’d love to hear why you write.
QUESTION: What rewards for writing well have I left out? Are there some you agree with? Why?
A reader wrote last week and asked me if I use OneNote 2010 for journaling or jotting down writing ideas. He is planning to leave a set of journals for his daughter and wondered how I did my journals.
Here’s my response …………………………..
Thanks for writing.
Everyone has his or her own way of doing things like this. I think as long as you’re asking, it means you’re open. And as long as you’re open, you’ll learn and you’ll be able to find a way that best suits you.
I like to record and date my journals. I keep several: A Reading Journal; A Travel Journal; A Spiritual Journal; and a Writing Notebook. Any one of these can be password protected if you need that kind of security. I mainly use PW protection only on my list of passwords. That way only my wife and I can access our passwords.
As far as your question about printing the journals, every once in awhile, I print a journal and make punch holes in the pages. Then I mount them in a 1.5 inch white 3-ring binder. A different binder for every 5 years. My spiritual journals are the largest, so I put them in a 2″ binder. Then I place them in my bookshelves.
But primarily I use and access them in OneNote itself. Use OneNote as your electronic index to the printed notebooks. That way if you need to see the larger context, you can simply find a topic or keyword in OneNote, then go to your printed edition and open to it. The less paper I use though, the better I like it. I enjoy the speed with which I can retrieve an idea that would otherwise be lost in the pages of my ink journals.
I still enjoy taking a book journal and pen with me when I’m in a park or on the beach, but I’m always thinking about how this will be accessed once I get back home and enter it into OneNote. I also like to scan things into one note or send photos to myself that I can print to OneNote.
EVERYTHING I need to retrieve or search is in OneNote. I never have to wonder where to find a special quote, because all of my Kindle highlights and notes have been saved to OneNote. I’m retaining a lot more of my reading that way. I can enter any keyword that I can remember from the quote or from my editing keywording of that quote when I chopped out some of the junk. I can recall that so-and-so said something about Joy. Control +E . . . BANG! I’m on it. Copy. Paste into Word. Move on.
Hope this is helpful. Hey, maybe I should post this answer to your question for others who have journals and are thinking about moving them to OneNote. Or beginning a journal on OneNote. What do you think?
He wrote back: “You should. Great answer and great process.”
- First look: OneNote 2013 (arstechnica.com)
- The Office 365 secret organiser – OneNote 2010 Part 1 (itproportal.com)
- How To Plan More Fun Into Your Summer With OneNote (5minutesformom.com)