(or, Despite It All, I Still Love My Cats)
So, while writing at home, I frequently encounter this scenario:
Thankfully, my cords are inaccessible to kitties, but the rest applies. For creatures characterized by their aloofness, my cats can be awfully needy when I spend a day at home. So, have I come up with a method for beating this frequent distraction? No. No I have not.
In all seriousness, distractions are a massive productivity killer when it comes to big projects of any sort. You need a few from time to time to keep you sane, but succumb to too many and you might as well give up. For me, at least, writing requires a certain amount of time to sink into the material and get surrounded by it. Anything that breaks the fragile imaginary world I’m diving into to pull my stories from throws me off my game and increases the amount of time I need to write the same amount. What do you do when you’re easily distracted by things like kids, or tv shows, or in this case, cats?
First thing I’ve found is that being home is not conducive to getting a lot done. Even a crowded, noisy coffee shop proves less distracting than being at home, provided you have some headphones to blot out the noise. When you’re out somewhere, the task you’ve brought with you is the only thing you can do, so you might as well do it! And for me, being in a public place makes me much less comfortable wasting time dilly-dallying with Facebook or checking updates on my 500 favorite webcomics.
The second thing that helps? Finding a good soundtrack. Complete silence leaves too much room for a cacophony of thoughts to fill the void, but listening to my favorite rock tunes just ends with me jamming out karaoke-style. So, when it’s time to get down to business, I pull out the instrumental stuff. My favorite music to work by consists of soundtracks from tv, movies, and video games. These melodies can be beautiful, haunting, driving, and energizing, and they were designed as a part of a larger experience, often where plot, visuals, dialogue, or gameplay take precedence. They tune out the distracting thoughts (as well as some actual distracting noises) and provide me with a mental place to work from.
The worst distractions come from inside, however. Nagging thoughts about bills that are due, dishes that need to be washed, birthdays that need to be remembered … lose focus for even a few seconds and they can come cramming into your consciousness like half-drunk concert attendees catching the last metro train of the night. Sadly, I don’t have a method for dealing with these distractions beyond hoping that I stay lost in the story I’m weaving long enough to keep them at bay. You’ve just got to keep focused! Keep trudging onward! Trudging, I say!
Currently, my writing goals are outpacing me by a few thousand words, but they haven’t beaten me yet! Good luck to anyone else out there working on something big! Those little victories on distant horizons can sometimes be closer than you think.