Your day has been derailed. You’re unmotivated. You’ve lost focus. You can’t concentrate. You would rather do the laundry, wash the car, or file your back taxes. Most writers have days when writing is near impossible. We have weeks when the stars refuse to align, forces conspire against us, and ideas that once seemed brilliant have lost their sparkle. At these times, my friend, you have two choices: give up and quit or do what I do: “DIS” yourself. “DISSING” oneself is an action plan that propels you in the right direction. It’s my way of pushing everything out of the way and making writing a top priority. It is done in three simple steps. Simple, however, does not mean easy, but in my experience, if one is serious about writing they have to do it. Here’s how:
#1: DISAPPEAR – get out of the house or wherever you might be where distractions pop up like gophers on a golf course. With four dogs, two sons, a rat in my attic, and housework up to my armpits, I escape to my local library. Don’t have a library nearby? Go to a Starbucks, a neighbor’s apartment, a hotel lobby, a corner in your garage. One of my friends turned a backyard shed into her writing hideaway with nothing more than a used desk, folding chair, and an extra long extension cord. Can’t leave the house because you don’t have a laptop or portable writing device? Get paper and pen. Pretty sure that’s how Shakespeare did it.
#2: DISCONNECT – Thanks to technology, we are constantly connected. There’s not a moment in the day when we cannot call, text, or instagram. Whenever the urge strikes us we can post, poke, or pin. We waste time shopping, playing, and socially networking. For me, the Internet is the mother of all rabbit holes. It eats up time like Pac-man eats dots (yes, I remember the 80’s). It is a panoply of distractions. No doubt, disconnecting is hard. There’s even a diagnosis for those who can’t do it – Internet Addition Disorder. But regardless of whether you are clinically addicted to devices or just dependent and clingy, you must wean yourself and refuse to panic when your connection to the outside world is severed. After a few weeks of practice, it even starts to feel good, liberating and relaxing, like taking a walk or playing with puppies or arranging flowers. Disconnecting gives you control of your time and frees your imagination to dream and create.
#3: DISENGAGE – This one is tough. We must identify and deal with the people in our lives who hinder us – friends who make us feel guilty because we aren’t available for lunch or drinks after work; family members who think writing is just a hobby or even a waste of time; buddies who tell us we “just aren’t fun anymore.” While it’s nice to know you are missed or wanted, you cannot allow yourself to be sidetracked by those who, unintentionally or not, hold you back. Relax – I’m not suggesting you cut all ties with these naysayers. Sometimes it just requires a stronger backbone or a bit of clever avoidance. Got a friend who urges you to ditch writing to go shopping or surfing or whatever? Plan dates with that friend ahead of time so that you don’t get sidetracked by last minute requests or pressured into postponing your writing time. If you just can’t say no, then don’t answer the call. Feel you have to respond to the message? Send a text with a good excuse. Make something up if you have to. After all, you are a writer! Do you have a relative who doesn’t take your writing seriously? Quit talking to them about it. Family members should be blown away by your commitment to writing. And if they are not putting you on a pedestal, they at least should be supportive. But if they aren’t, limit your conversations to sports, weather, and who’s hosting Thanksgiving.
Now that you know how to “DIS” yourself, go do it!
Who or what interferes with your ability to write? What tricks do you employ to get writing to the top of the list?