Writing Delay Tactics Revisited

Yesterday Rachelle Gardner gave her readers an opportunity to share how they use (or don’t use) social media such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc., and how they cope with the resulting time drain. Responses ran from those who interact via blogging but see anything else as a waste of time, to those who utilize every possible opportunity for social networking.

The question keeps rearing up: as a writer, how do you make the best use of your time?

Then again, what do you do if you find yourself in that writer’s quicksand where you aren’t making any use of your time? Inspiration is just beyond reach and every little thing is a distraction that keeps your fingers off the keys and your brain focusing on non-writing essentials.

It’s only a Diet Coke, folks. Honestly, it’ll only take me a minute and I’ll be back at my desk. Oh, wait. I forgot. There aren’t any in the fridge. I drank the last one this morning. Drat. Now I’ll have to make a quick trip to the store. Oh, and while I’m out I might as well drop off these library books… and I should take along this fabric sample and look for new drapery material… and… What? Delay tactics? Of course not! They’re all things that I’ve been meaning to do; things I have to get done. I’m not avoiding my writing. I want to write. I just have to be in the right frame of mind to do it. Once I take care of all these distractions I’ll be able to concentrate again. No problem. Really.

Sound familiar? What about you? How do you cope when the essentials of life lure you away from your writing? How do you balance your everyday life with your writing life or is it even possible to separate them?

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10 thoughts on “Writing Delay Tactics Revisited

  1. joylene says:

    haha, right on, Careann. You hit the nail on the head. It’s rather charming though, that we’re on the same wave length. For the last two days, I’ve been trying to live in the “moment”. Wow, it’s a lot harder than you’d think. Went to the farm today and it was easy. Animals have a way of easing into the “now”. Maybe that’s the trick, keep a pet nearby while you’re writing.

  2. Joylene, I’m not sure I could, or even should try to, live “in the moment” (if I understand your meaning correctly). I’m afraid I’d bounce from one thing to another getting farther and farther away from the more important things that I ought to be doing. I think I need a personal secretary who will make sure I adhere to some kind of schedule. Oh, wait. I have one. She’s called “Conscience” and I manage to ignore her regularly. 😉

    My dog is often under my desk as I write. I’m not sure if he’s there *because* I’m writing, or if I’m writing because he’s there but at times we make a reasonably productive duo.

  3. JaxPop says:

    I’m interrupting my writing to grab more coffee, check out your post & say HULLO. (No worries – I go ’til 4 or 5 AM on Saturday nights.) I can’t multi-task & write – but I do jump up & down & wander around – particularly when I’m running dialogue through my brain. Haven’t started talking to myself yet. Give it time.

    Alas, no furry friends to help out. My cat has his own agenda – he prefers solitude.

  4. Hello to you, too, Dave. I’m in awe of the 4 and 5 a.m. — I used to be able to work through the night, but my brain turns to Jello at the stroke of midnight now. Oh, the woes of getting older. 😉 Hope it’s a productive session for you tonight.

  5. vade55 says:

    Friday I jotted down notes for a blog post on being accountable for how I spend my time; didn’t get around to posting it, though, as “life” got in the way. 🙂

    I’m not organized with my writing, and it shows in the lack of progress toward my goals. I’m easily distracted, and my priorities don’t stay in focus. However, I think there are several things more important than writing, so I don’t get stressed out over it when I accomplish less than I thought I would. Perhaps I’ll never be a successful writer, but that’s fine with me. Writing is an emotional and social outlet for me, and someday I hope it will also be profitable, but at this time in my life my family and business have to come first.

    Carol

  6. Carol, you’re definitely right that at times there are more important things in our lives than writing. I think if we’re meant to be writers, however, there is a creative place inside us that always makes us come back to the writing… it’s a part of us.

    There was a lengthy period in my life when I wasn’t formally writing at all, although I journalled through it. After that I discovered writing is like a lot of other creative things… it requires practice to be done well, and when I didn’t practise it regularly, the art aspect withered and took a lot of time and work to redevelop. A concrete example is playing a musical instrument. When you don’t practise you may not lose the knowledge but you lose your ability to communicate a song soulfully… your fingers stumble to find the right notes… you lose your touch.

    I may never be a *success* either but I think success is a very individual thing, defined by one’s goals. Goals have to be realistic for each person. Making money at writing has never been a priority for me but expressing myself well is important. So I keep working at it. I’m sure you will too, as time and life permit.

  7. Tricia says:

    I don’t cope. I’m sinking in the quicksand of distraction and I need a life raft.

  8. [vbg] You crack me up, Tricia! So what’s it going to take to pull you out of that quicksand onto a raft? The only lifeline I can think of is a buddy system… like someone to whom you have to report your daily writing achievement *every* day. Do you have one? Or maybe you need a new one? My e-mail is on my “about” page.

    • Tricia says:

      Thank you for your volunteerism (I made that word up). Don’t be surprised if I take you up on it. I secretly wish sometimes that my computer wasn’t linked to the internet, that my husband would set me up with the word program only. I would die, though, so I won’t mention it to him.

      • It’s a great word. You’re allowed to make words up as long as you can find somewhere legitimate to use them (and you did). Having wireless internet means no matter where I go with my laptop around here I have access to far more than my ms, and it’s terribly tempting to keep checking for new posts, comments and e-mail. I tend to bargain with myself: write for an hour and then I can have fifteen minutes online. If I don’t set limits I’d never get anything done!

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