Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dealing With Distractions

blog15 I was talking to my friend Friday about our children.  My son, a middle schooler, has his own cell phone and spends a good deal of time texting on it.  The other day he was tackling honors math homework, texting several different people, talking to me, and eating a bowl of ramen noodles. Naturally, I assumed he wasn't doing any of these things well, based on the fact that I would have failed abysmally at juggling all these different things. But...his ratios and percentages seemed correct (to my English major brain, anyway), the people he was texting seemed to think they were all having a solo conversation with him, his dialogue with me was perfectly coherent, and the food was rapidly disappearing.  Hmm.  My friend and I decided that the next generation is obviously wired differently. Maybe, since they cope with so many competing media, their short attention spans don't limit the quality of their output.

Writing, for me anyway, doesn't work that way.  I had an entire day of writing derailed last week by getting distracted.  I started out being focused on my current manuscript.  But then I got an email from the publicity person at Midnight Ink for the book, Pretty is as Pretty Dies, being released in August.  Since the email seemed to indicate a deadline for some information they needed from me, I followed that tangent.  But then I got a different email from my editor at Midnight Ink, asking me to review several corrections they had for the August release.  Well, that suddenly seemed more of a priority (gosh, don't want the book to have any errors.  Why even think about marketing a book that has errors?  Better put off the publicity info and do these corrections real quick.)

And then it was time for something completely different: my daughter's school needed me to go over and watch the class for an hour and a half for the teacher. So, of course, still thinking about corrections and marketing, I dash out the door.  I have brought nothing to entertain the second graders with--because, hey, my head is still at home even though my body is at the elementary school.

I hashed through where I went wrong on Thursday.  Obviously, I never should have read my emails.  I think that's actually the point where my train got derailed.  Volunteering at the school was already set, but I should have handled it differently---focused on my work in progress first (no emails), then given myself twenty minutes to get my head wrapped back around going to the school (and figuring out what I needed to bring, etc...a book or a word search would have helped me out).

The lesson I take from this is that I need to disconnect from media when I write. The time I spend on writing needs to be dedicated time. I'll have an assigned time to check emails that's later in the day.  Because I'm not a middle schooler anymore. 

Interesting blogs:

Blog Book Tours blog, which appears to be the Holy Grail for authors interested in blog tours.

Mysterious Matters blog has a great post on motives for murder.

Blood Red Pencil has several entries on Elaura Niles' new book Some Writers Deserve to Starve: 31 Brutal Truths about the Publishing Industry.

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