Another thing I’ve discovered recently is that it’s a lot more difficult for me to work when I’m at home than it is for me to work when I’m outside of my home office. It’s not that my space at home is a bad writing space. Quite the opposite: it’s one of my favorite spaces in the world in terms of creativity and writing. The problem seems to be the home-based distractions. If it isn’t a cat wanting into my lap (and then wanting to play in my lap) or the dog wanting me to feed her, or crying because my door is closed because I’m tired of the dog wanting me to feed her, it’s my husband. Our offices face each other across a very narrow hallway, and we’re in the habit of just making comments back and forth as we’re playing video games or on the Internet.
While that’s fine for playing a game where interruption doesn’t matter, it’s less fine for when I’m actively trying to concentrate on writing. Just the fact that he says one sentence, even if he stops when he realizes that I’m in the middle of trying to write, is extremely distracting and frustrating. But if I close the door, it gets warm in my writing room and the dog whines.
I’m starting to understand why some people go to coffee shops or bookstores to do their writing. I get a lot more done when I’m not writing at home. There’s something about the going somewhere else and doing something else that switches my brain into an entirely different mode. It’s certainly distracting in its own way, but usually people and animals and so on don’t make any demands for your attention. When my eyes wander, they’re just drifting along while my brain is free to continue on its trek. The true distraction is when pets and people are making demands on my mental attention.
Sometimes I think I should start getting up on Saturday and Sunday mornings, hauling my laptop into my car, and just leaving the house for a while. But when it comes right down to it, I’m something of a lazy introvert. I don’t like putting on pants and going places. And my ideal writing time is right when I get up, and sometimes if can get into it right away I even forget to have coffee.
Until the other creatures in the house show up. Then it’s just distraction central.
What I want is a writing space that’s comfortable, in my house, and free of distractions. But I think what will happen is that I’ll just start closing my door and listening to loud music on my headphones.
One of the things I’ve discovered while working through my post-death-in-the-family writer’s block is how important my routines are toward my being an effective writer. This blog is one of those routines. I initially created it to give myself accountability toward my writing goals, and judging by recent events, I still need it to help fulfill that purpose.
I should have known the importance of routines and self-accountability from my day job, where my life is run by the checklist I created to make sure that all of my work gets done to my specifications. While ultimately I’m accountable to my boss for the quality of work, it’s my job to make sure that I’m giving him work of the highest quality in the first place. And while my preferred work style is focusing intently on a given task and seeing it through to completion, the necessities of my day job don’t always allow that, so I’ve had to adjust. Enter the checklist, a visual reminder of where I was in my quality assurance process.
My blog was initially intended to be similar to my work checklist, a visible reminder of where I am in my “becoming a writer” process. Yet over time it became a thing for itself. I wanted to make sure that my blog updated regularly because successful blogs update regularly and my word is my bond. If I say I’m going to update on Mondays, I better update on Mondays or explain why. To that end, I started working a little buffer in against unexpected events like weekend Internet outage or inexplicable depression.
I think that taking that too far actually hurt rather than helped. In preparation for Camp NaNoWriMo, when I planned on focusing all of my writing energy on creative writing, I buffered up blog posts that would take me through the middle of May. Once I’d basically given up on hitting my Camp NaNo goals, there was nothing dragging me back into the process of thinking about writing. I even stopped listening to my usual podcasts in the car. But avoidance wasn’t refreshing at all. I think the fact that there was nothing forcing me to engage in writing dragged out my recovery period. I doubt it was coincidental that once I had to kick my butt into gear to update my blog again, I started writing again.
So that’s one thing I’ve discovered about me. I won’t dispute that buffer posts are a good thing toward making sure I meet my own self-set blog posting deadlines, but too many buffer posts can be a bad thing.