Most aspiring authors have real lives outside of writing. Even I do. I often wonder if life gets in the way of writing, or if writing requires having a life, but that’s a much larger topic than what this post is about.
There are very few things I’d rather do than write. I find it relaxing, challenging, and satisfying. Yet, a number of distractions easily take me away from writing. I’m not talking about time with family and friends. They always take priority. I’m referring to distractions I face while actually at my desk.
My office has an expansive window with long-range views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’m fortunate to have such a serene setting in which to think and compose. I frequently gaze out this window, distracted by the natural beauty of the trees and faraway hills. In the winter months, days pass without seeing another person, but rarely a day goes by without seeing a herd of deer wandering through my view. It’s an interesting dichotomy. The quiet and solitude which make this a great place to write often has me focusing elsewhere.
Research is a large part of writing, even for a fiction writer. The internet puts sources of information at my fingertips. With one keystroke, I can switch from composing a novel on Microsoft Word to searching a range of topics on Google, Bing, or Yahoo. While this is infinitely more productive than going to the library and digging through periodicals, internet research also presents a risk. The risk is never getting back to writing. One minute, I’m verifying the location of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, and the next minute, I’m buying a lawn trimmer off Home Depot’s website or reading my book reviews on Amazon.
I’ve concluded these distractions can actually be constructive. While writing requires deep concentration to ensure continuity, consistency, and correctness, it also requires an inventive and open mind. I am able to write head-down for an hour at most. Any longer, and I lose my imagination and my writing grows stale. It’s at these times a cup of coffee is in order. I’ll return to my desk to sip coffee and enjoy the views out my window, or maybe read an interesting article on my laptop. These breaks often refresh my thoughts, enabling me to return for another period productive writing.
I must admit there are days when I stare out my window, never focusing on my writing, and that’s not all bad. If my mind’s not into writing, I’d probably produce garbage anyway. Oh, look! My nephew just posted pictures of his new puppies on Facebook. I’ll finish this post later.