Thursday, February 28, 2013

Distractions

Writing is not a ticket away from the roller coaster of life.  Both continue in parallel, and not always in synch.  I was reminded of this fact six weeks ago when my company was bought out and all engineers including myself sent packing.  Oh, I'm employed again, and looking forward to a great time with my new company, but for five weeks I faced a "distraction" of looking for a job and worrying about my family.  I also wrote.

The key to writing under duress is to first understand your priorities - and writing is not one of them unless it covers the bills.  For most writers, myself included, the true fantasy is being self-sustainable as a writer.  Maybe ten percent of authors can pull this off, but I digress.  Writing is not first and foremost when life comes a calling.  It is what you do in between dealing with your more immediate challenges.  Or, to put it more succinctly, what you try and do.

So, when you find yourself distracted by a major event, step one is to deal with the event.  Get to a place where you understand there is nothing more you can do on that particular day to advance your goals.  For me, it was when I had submitted enough applications and endured enough interviews to know my work for the day was done.  At this point you can consider picking up your virtual pen and write.  Sometimes a schedule helps, but most times not. 

First on your agenda is to forget that you can simply forget your worries.  Not going to happen.  Instead, decouple yourself as much as possible, be it through exercise or some other stress-draining activity.  Then, hit the calming music, close the doors, and see how far you can immerse yourself in your story.  Be alert for outside concerns sneaking their way into your characters.  Not a good idea unless you want this sort of thing - and then it's a great idea.  Only then, however.  Review your recent work and allow your attention to focus on the story at hand.  If this isn't possible, don't beat yourself.  Put the keyboard aside for another day.  Now, if the day went well and you are confident of the future (that roller coaster I mentioned), then have at it.  Take advantage of your time and use it, for tomorrow may be different.  Always make sure you review your previous day's work with appropriate suspicion.

Some may say that writing is a perfect escape from your troubles.  I doubt it.  Writing is as much about your own experiences as it is inspiration and imagination, and your troubles will indeed follow you in.  Accept this.  You've bigger worries to solve at the moment.

So, there you have it.  One writer's opinion on life's little curves as they happened.  Now back to "Tracks", which I'm pleased to say passed page one-hundred today in its final draft (I do three drafts, folks).  On schedule and on time - job or no job, but preferably job. (grin).

Kerry
www.kmtolan.com 

2 comments:

Big Mike said...

I think less than 1% operate in the "independent" black zone for published writers. Few are profitable. Ref life distractions, yeah, most have had them. We've lost about a dozen members over five years because they lost jobs or their hubbies did and they had to go back to work. And when you get a medical disruption, oh boy. Cancer derailed my writing for almost a year.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Your advice is excellent and realistic. Glad your employed again, too.