"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Writing Through the Distractions...of Life

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Most of us are familiar with the regular, run-of-the-mill distractions that rob us of our productivity and wreak havoc with our peace.
The constantly ringing phone, the barking dog begging for attention, the kids at war with one another, the numerous requests to find lost items by our loved ones.
Not to mention the countless hours enslaved to social media, and "the next shiny object" syndrome.

But, what about the difficult stuff that touches our lives that drains us and causes us to lose our focus and direction?

  • A good friend suffers bad health
  • Someone you know dies unexpectedly
  • You lose all your online projects due to a devastating computer virus
  • A financial set-back sabotages your creative game plan 
  • A divorce hits home
Let's face it: more than most jobs, creative writing requires concentration, dedication, and motivation.
Wouldn't you agree?
And one thing's for certain...if you're experiencing more "internal conflict" than the characters in your stories, you've got a problem.
Still, sometimes the worst happens to the best of us.
Life's periodic blows can "sucker punch" us, leaving us with little defense.
Unfortunately, I've had one or two of these "bouts" this year.

As such, here's what I've learned in its arena:

  • Prayer helps. Remember "this too shall pass." 
  • Sometimes the best you can do is the best you can do. Stay in peace.
  • Having a supportive network is almost as therapeutic as medicine. Spend quality time with those you care for. They're great morale boosters.
  • Even when you can't handle major writing assignments and projects, keep a journal. Often difficult times impart important lessons and fodder for creative pieces for the future. Another way to temporarily capture your thoughts and emotions is to record them on a tape player or other electronic device. Voice recognition software is yet another option.
  • In the words of Sarah Palin, "Don't retreat, reload!" Can I be honest here? If you're attempting to write professionally, for pay, most editors don't really care about your personal life...unless you're personal friends. Which means that sometimes we have to bounce back and move on. It may sound harsh, but it's true. Remember the popular slogan in Hollywood..."The show must go on." 
  • When possible, have a Plan B. For example, it could include having an "emergency fund" in place, or backing up your computer files, or diversifying your writing and your roster of clients.

Your turn.
How about you?
What do you do when you're "in-the-thick" of it? How do you successfully manage writer's distractions?
What would you add here?


  1. Wow, Jen. How timely! There's always so much going on when the weather is nice and so many changes happening in the publishing world - well - sometime you just want to give up. And you're so right about editors not caring about your personal life. They can't. That's okay. Keep on keeping on - another fave of mine and what I try to do. Have I ever told you what a blessing you are? Hugs.

  2. Aww...you are too kind. Thanks for being you.

  3. I once taught a Poetry class, where a student asked what to do when you get Writer's Block? Without blinking an eye I told her, "Write about who's on your block?"

    Most people have grown up on a block in some neighborhood (not all houses are on a block), and each block has a north, south, east and west corner. I gave the class the assignment to write about the areas on their block, and in that description would unfold a proud piece of poetry or prose....

    Of course, my point is to embrace what some call distractions, as inspiration or material. There are times where a sound is just what you need to wake up your writing, perhaps providing an action word that will keep your readers' interest. You never know....

    Writing is a risk. Reading 'you' is a risk your audience is willing to take. There will come a time where you'll have to put a different twist of 'you' in your sharing. Jen, as your title wonderfully directs: write THROUGH the distractions of life!

    ... even let "through" mean "using...."

    1. Great perspective here, Sporty.Thanks for adding to the mix.

  4. I'm with Susan S., you are a blessing! This is a great and timely reminder for me. Feel like I am navigating choppy waters right now - nothing major, just enough interruptions and whatnot to throw things off a bit. One thing I try to do is extend myself grace during these times, and pray for help to maintain the right balance.

    Happy Birthday weekend - hope it's wonderful! Hope too, that you have a lovely surprise or two visit your doorstep or mailbox. :)

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Words can not adequately express my appreciation for folks like you. More than you know, I value you Karen. :-) Thanks for the positive vibes. And Happy 21st birthday to you too. :-)

    2. Jennifer Brown BanksJune 29, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      I just got my card in the mail; thanks so much for remembering. :-)

  5. I've learned to put notes in my phone, and those notes often turn into writing pieces. I also journal to keep my sanity.

    1. Good tip, Steph; I have done this too. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Hi Jen,
    I left a comment earlier but isn't showing. I recently had a crazy week, no, month, and I have learned that for me, it is best to get a night's sleep and start anew in the morning, or wait sometimes days until I can give it my best. Sometimes postponement is better for me. It always helps to look forward and know that I will be back on track soon.

    1. Lin,
      Sorry about the glitch. You make a valid point. Sometimes it makes sense to pause for the cause. By the way, congrats on the new, little beautiful addition to your family. :-) Be well.

  7. I like the idea of keeping something of a Journal or a 'Have Done list'. Than even when you think you haven't done much, such a 'Have Done list shows that you at least done somethings.

    It also can help (re)build Inspiration & Motivation for new activities.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 2, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      I dig that concept too. Thanks much for the tip.

  8. When life happens, you have to take time away from the busy-ness and relax your mental. What is your next step? Who can you call for your help? And sometimes you just have to do nothing, especially when you're in emotional turmoil.

  9. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 8, 2014 at 11:50 AM


    I hear ya'! Thanks for chiming in. :-)