Friday, January 22
A few days ago, I suffered through a six-day migraine and ended up in the Emergency Department on IV meds to knock me out. Something powerful was needed to break the cycle of pain going on in my brain. It worked and I woke up four hours later pain free.
Any migraine sufferer knows once one has a hold of you there is just no letting go. It’s the unexpected and unwanted guest in your head for the next two or three days. Or, as in my case, six days. The pain is relentless, you can’t face light or sound, and your stomach feels like a roller coaster on steroids.
What does this have to do with distractions and your writing?
It seems to me there are two types of writers: those who try to adhere to a rigid schedule of hours, word counts, or pages per day, and those who put their goals up on the bulletin board January 1 and never look at them again. (Feel free to disagree with me here, there’s likely a third type who falls somewhere in the middle!)
My point is anything can distract you from your writing. If you let it. If you’re like me, maybe you beat yourself up regularly for not achieving that page count every day. You stare at your Excel spreadsheets showing how far behind you are and think strongly about the joys of cleaning out the kitty litter box, rather than try to open that WIP one more time!
Beating yourself up over lost time is a distraction in itself. What can you do to overcome the mind-set that your life is out of control so there is no point in trying to get back on track with your writing? Many books will tell you to write lists, “morning pages”, “stream of consciousness” for your characters, use writing prompts. These ideas are so common we’ve all read them a dozen times.
Here’s an idea that worked for me after I recovered from my post-migraine haze. I went out and bought myself a huge poster of AVATAR. It’s striking, blue, and black, and large enough it centers your attention in my small office. Seeing this poster beside my monitor every day reminds me of three things: 1) anything is possible! James Cameron took over twelve years to make this movie because he wanted technology available which could live up to his vision. Sometimes we need space to grow and be ready to live up to our own visions, 2) some stories need to be told in their own time. If you’re struggling with a WIP and allow yourself to be distracted enough you only open it once a week, it’s time for a new story, and 3) if you’re a visual writer and “learner” getting yourself some visual symbol that resonates with you will open up your mind to new possibilities. You’ll be able to work out those distractions and put them in their place – craving the time to get back to your story.
So, open yourself up to your vision of what you can achieve. Realize when it’s time to move on from one story to the next. Use visuals to help get your mind framed around your story. It’s all right to have someone else show you the way – the important thing is to pick yourself up after major distractions in your life and go back to writing your dream book.