Once upon a time I thought that all the planets had to be aligned, every room in my house had to be immaculate, a Blue Morpho butterfly had to flap it’s wings three times on a toadstool in the Amazon, and 17 male virgins had to be sacrificed in order for the conditions to be ‘just right’ for me to write.
I’ve heard lots of people talk about how their writing will really come along once their study is properly renovated, or the studio out the back built, or the local cafe gets wifi. What I’ve discovered though is all of these restrictions we impose upon ourselves are just distractions stopping us from actually getting the writing done.
Writing can be exhilarating when you’re in the zone and words just seem to be falling perfectly into place, or at least the ideas are falling out of your head and on to the page. But a great deal of the time writing is hard and yuck and exhausting and scary. So it really isn’t any wonder that we create these barriers to stop us from just putting our bum on the seat and working.
One of the many pieces of advice I’ve held on to from Catherine Deveny’s Gunnas Writing Retreat is this:
Write in the cracksCatherine Deveny
Write in those tiny moments when you actually have a chance. You don’t need a 4 hour block in a writing studio in order to be productive. You can get some important work done in 5 minutes sitting in the car in the driveway. And I’ve done that. A friend of mine said only yesterday that some of her best writing ideas come to her in the car. So what happens to those brilliant ideas if she doesn’t put pen to paper the instant she’s able to? Well, by the time a 4 hour uninterrupted block rolls around for her it’ll probably be about 2055 when she’s retiring (providing, of course, we’re still here).
I’ve been reading an excellent book lately called ‘Indistractable’ by Nir Eyal and it’s been invaluable in helping me prioritise the things I truly care about. I’ve never been much into time-blocking ’cause I’m a laid-back, fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl. But actually that laid-back attitude really hasn’t served my writing life at all. All it’s done is present me with myriad reasons to procrastinate; TV, socialising, cleaning. All things that could’ve waited.
Now though, I look at external and internal factors that distract me and I time-block my day to either include them at an appropriate time, or exclude them altogether. And so far, it’s working. For the first time ever I am writing every single day.
I walk up the stairs to my study. I walk past the dishwasher that needs emptying, I step over (God willing) the LEGO trail leading to the door, I light a candle on my desk and press play on my ‘songs to write to’ playlist and I just write. My desk is covered in books and journals and inspiring quotes and that’s just how I like it. I believe it was Einstein who said:
If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?Albert Einstein
Indeed. So have a look at the restrictions you place around your own writing time. Perhaps take an audit of your week and see where you’re spending most of your time when it may be possible to write. Are things that could wait distracting you from the task at hand? If you get a chance flick through ‘Indistractable’. It will not only help you prioritise more time for writing but will also support you to be more efficient at work and more present in your daily life.
Have a wonderful day one and all. Enjoy a lovely cup of tea and some time to write xx