In this photo above are you focused on the branch or the sunset? Yup – hard to decide isn’t it? That’s how it feels when you’re writing and trying to avoid distractions. Some days I’m not sure what’s easiest to focus on. The branch, the sunset or the branch against the sunset.
I, Rae, the owner of this blog should be writing at this time. I am – technically. I’m writing this post. In the midst of making coffee, I realized I might be avoiding the obvious. Actually sitting down and writing. When I heard the amazing Berniece McFadden talk about her ways of avoiding sitting in the chair and writing in 2012, I didn’t feel as alone anymore. Here I was thinking I was fearful and lazy (when it comes to writing anyway). Come to find out, that’s not really the case. It’s something most writers do. I’m not sure if painters, sculptors and the like do it as well, but I can see where depending on the art, the avoidance may be different.
I thought I would take a moment to talk about it.
The Avoidance Tactics
Writing this Blog Post
Listen, when I can’t sit and write stories – which seems to be an issue at this time, then I just end up here on the blog and jot a few notes down. However, it can be a time suck because the MOMENT the publish button hits, then most of us are looking to see if there are any views, feedback, comments, etc.
Feeding the Birds
I sat here for a good while and watched the birds as I put out food for them. I have a lot of blue jays that appear here. Who would’ve figured back here in the hood? But the way the trees are on my side of the building it seems to be an area, the birds, cats, possums and whatever else happens to enjoy.
While this isn’t a futile endeavor, I keep staring out the window at this shot I want to take of the raindrops on the tree. Then I devise that I might want to use various lenses. Then the tripod comes out. Tuh! You get the idea. Note: that’s not to say I won’t stop and take the photo if I need to. I realized the other week when @socamom and I were out shooting still shots in the city, it’s important to get the photo when you see it. The light, that moment, that thing may not be there again. I’ll also add, the photos are the most productive distraction to date. I still got that photo though. I just snapped. Through the window. See how pretty and sparkly the rain drops are? You’d be distracted too.
Cleaning | Cooking | Domestic Behavior
I went into the kitchen, made coffee and started the dishwasher. But somehow, as I looked around I was thinking to myself – I should clean the table off. As I type this, the table is yelling at me from behind. I can’t stop thinking about it. Or the laundry. Or how I want to re-arrange the books then go and take my closet apart and re-arrange it too. Or I start looking at recipes. Which could then result in me going to the grocery store.
The Innanet | “Research” | Social Media
Listen. I can sit and do “research” for days. Can’t most of us? I’m not immune to it. But it’s some bullshit sometimes. Then as I wanted to start a story, I found myself thumbing through my Kindle wondering how other authors started their books. I’m obsessed with the first pages of novels.
The moment I start looking at stats, looking at sales, looking at hits. Yeah. It can bring me to that moment of wanting to believe I’m not good enough. Which then leads to the proverbial ‘fuck it.’ I work hard not to compare. But every now and again, it’s difficult not to do.
No Social Media | Electronic Communication
I can’t tweet, email or do anything while I’m writing. I need to sit here for a few hours and comb through my stuff. Or comb through all of the snippets of unfinished stories I’ve already written. Some are stuffed in email (many) so I’m allowed to go through my drafts folder.
I tell everyone I’m writing. Basically in Rae-speak that means – I’m not available. Unless you’re dying – or someone we know and love is dying – please leave me alone until I come up for air. Writers need an extraordinary amount of solitude. I also have loved ones who will check in and ask me if I’m writing or working, how many words I wrote today. You know. Basically a writing overseer. What? It really keeps me honest.
There are approved forms of reading material. For me this may be starting a new novel or reading a short story. It may mean going back to a previously read novel to re-read something that inspired me. Sometimes, the reading is more of a case study than it is an escape. You may just need to look at how someone else did it just to find your voice. That’s ok too. I read a lot of content on other writers, publishing, etc. Those are productive for me.
I have banned myself from turning on the tv and trying to write. I’m one of the people who can write with music (a pre-designed playlist) or I can write in silence. But TV? Nope. I’m guaranteed to be off watching it for hours.
Writing this Post
I’m about to sound like a hypocrite but, well, you know…. listen. I wrote. This post is currently 900 words. Give or take. I got some writing done. I identified where I’m having issues. That being said, I feel like I did something I was supposed to do.
What are your avoidance behaviors? How do you fix them?