Here’s the honest truth: my biggest challenge as a writer is to keep my butt in the chair, and my computer screen locked on my novel. I am a chronic email checker. There, I said it. I go to my gmail box often looking for an excuse to take me away from writing. It’s not right. I know better, but I do it anyway. I use everything as a reason to get out of my chair. The bathroom, a drink of water, a bowl of cereal, a walk out back to check on the weather conditions. And don’t get me started on social media. My goodness, whose idea was this electronic second life anyway? I sit with my fingers on the computer keys trying to lose myself in the story, and the next thing I know I’m clicking through Facebook, lurking through inspirational quotes, participating in questions of the day, and liking those cute first day of school pictures.
I am blessed with three busy children and they are another distraction, even from school. It’s not totally their fault, I’m the Type-A mother who starts planning summer camp in January. There is research to be done and it must be done right before I write that character sketch, flashback scene and mother/daughter confrontation. Oh, and vacation? How I love to be distracted by vacation surfing. Many of which I will never go on but enjoy looking at the pictures and imagining myself on the lounge chair, in sunglasses, sipping a margarita.
So how do I get anything done? I start by writing all of my ideas in long hand. Even though my once beautiful Catholic school handwriting has turned into chicken scratch, writing in a five-subject notebook keeps me from being distracted by the mighty internet. When I write long hand, there is no stroke of the key that can transport me into the world of the social conversation. It’s just me, my pen and the paper. Another tactic is what I like to call time and treat. I tell myself, you must sit and write for an hour and then receive a treat of five or ten minutes of surfing freedom. I’m still a work in progress, but with my third novel coming out in April and my fourth emerging from my notebook, I’m working hard every day to be disciplined and get it done.
This essay first appeared on author and writer mentor Stacy Hawkins Adams’s blog, www.LifeUntapped.com.