Just getting to work

Imagine that you are late for work. As usually happens when you're running late, you catch every stoplight between home and your office. There's construction blocking a lane of traffic on one road and a fender bender on another. Then, just as you near the office, you get pulled over because your state inspection sticker expired YESTERDAY. That feeling you have when this happens, that choking frustration that tightens your shoulders and makes you want to scream? That's pretty much the feeling that moms who write fiction feel toward the end of every summer.

It is virtually impossible to write fiction when you are interrupted hourly with requests for snacks, shouts of video game failure and/or triumph, and sibling arguments. And that's just what happens when you're at home. There are also rides to camp and playdates, vacations and day trips. By the end of the summer, my characters' voices can be little more than a distant murmur coming from behind a closed door.

On the rare occasions did manage to overhear some of their conversations over the summer, I would scurry upstairs or hurriedly pull out my Surface to type them up only to be interrupted by cries of, "Moooooooom!" or "Stop touching me!". Suddenly the fictional voices retreated, leaving me sitting in front of Scrivener with nothing to write. So, I would jot whatever plot point I could remember on a post-it and add it to the outline on my office wall. Then, I quit trying to type things, and went low tech.

I started hand writing those bits that came to me at odd peaceful moments during the summer. I found something interesting. Handwriting seemed to cut through the distractions. Maybe it was the deliberateness of forming letters rather than pressing keys or the tactile sensation of the pen scratching over the surface of the paper. Either way, writing things out by hand turned down all the noise from outside my head. So, I've been writing in journals most of the summer.

Now that the kids are back in school and I can devote my uninterrupted days to typing up those journals and writing, I have a three point productivity plan.

One screen for writing, one for research.

One screen for writing, one for research.

  1. Standing desk - I have converted to a standing desk using this plan and a few parts from Ikea. Why convert to a standing desk? Well, according to many people who already use them, they are productivity boosters that also have added health benefits. In my own experience, I have found that once my butt is seated in my nice, comfy office chair, I'm relaxed and more open to distractions. They live on Facebook and Pinterest. I find that when I'm standing, I'm checking things off my to do list at a much higher rate. I'm not tempted to pin a dozen patterns for knitted hedgehogs or binge watch four seasons of Call the Midwife. It's easier to stay focused. Also, it leaves more room on my desk for cats, and that makes them happy.
  2. Shut down the distractions - Sure Point #1 makes me less susceptible to temptation, but I can also remove temptation by closing the tabs on my browser that aren't related to what I'm writing. I know that sounds like such a simple thing, but it actually makes a difference. I also put my phone out of arms length and out of sight. As a mom, I can't turn my phone off. As soon as I do, the school nurse will try to call to tell me that my squirmy eight year old has fallen off her chair and bumped her head on something (Seriously, this happens almost weekly.). But I can put it aside so that it behaves like an old school phone instead of the insidious distractinator that smart phones can be.
  3. Music - I frequently write to music. I know some writers claim that they can't listen to music or can't listen to music with lyrics while writing, but I find it hard to write fiction without music. I have playlists for each of the characters who tell the story in my book. Nothing helps me summon up a character's voice quicker than the right song, whether it's old time Appalachian ballads, classic rock or Chopin. I'll even listen to music that I hate if it fits the character's voice.
Hemingway enjoying his new desktop digs.

Hemingway enjoying his new desktop digs.

So once the younger child gets on the school bus, I can grab myself a cup of coffee and climb the stairs to my office. I'll stand at my desk, turn up the music and get to writing.


Don't forget, it's the LAST DAY that you can grab The River Maiden for FREE as part of my End of Summer Promo.


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