Diversions & Distractions

J. L. Harland   •   June 26th, 2018

Everyone has days when it’s difficult to write. Maybe you’ve got a bug or a hangover, or you’ve been ill and are recovering from some illness. On those days, when it’s difficult to concentrate on just getting those words, any words, on the page, then perhaps there are other ways to be a writer.

If you can concentrate to read, or do a bit of research for your project, then that counts. Don’t feel guilty about it. Writers who don’t read will not be able to develop their own work. That doesn’t mean that if you write romance you should devour every romantic novel on the library shelf. Wide reading, fiction and non-fiction should form part of your diet.

However, there are other distractions. That’s what we’ve been talking about this week. Many publishers require you to have an online presence. In fact, before submitting to some competitions, you must provide details of your media accounts and provide a sort of marketing plan. (Well, at least some of your ideas towards marketing your book.) These days it’s not all about getting a publishing deal and sitting back and relaxing. You are expected to get out there into the media scene and start projecting yourself, as well as writing the next book. Depending on your nature, that can be either scary or fun.

Social media is a good way to connect with fellow writers across the globe, but it can also be very time consuming and distracting. The way to avoid it becoming too disruptive to your writing routine is to restrict your time online dealing with your social media accounts. Depending on how disciplined you are, you need to develop a strategy for maintaining an online presence without it taking over your valuable writing time. You either give yourself a limited time in the morning before you start writing or when you have achieved your word limit for the day. Some people suggest a maximum of thirty minutes a day. Balance is everything.

Etiquette for online working should be the same as face to face meetings. Be supportive and polite to your fellow writers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever additional platform you use. Connect and discover the wealth of talent and encouragement out there in cyberspace.

We are all still learning, so sometimes distraction can be useful but if you are not meeting deadlines. If you find yourself too busy tweeting to write, then it’s time to take stock and avoid all distractions. Perhaps a retreat? How do you balance your distractions? We’d love to hear from you.