Interruptions can be a relief or devastating to a writer.
The biggest lesson* I learned from working on a couple of novels over three years is the secret to writing is putting words to “paper” (computer screen) even when the muse is not with you or else your novel will never get finished. Zen Zones are rare, the words flowing from your mind, the characters driving themselves, and your hands trying to keep up on the keyboard.
When zen zones are interrupted it’s a horrible thing. You might refocus your mind and keep telling the tale but you will NEVER get that steaming train back. The problem is, the casual observer can’t tell you’re in that zone until you finally look up and they see that utterly blank where am I look. And then it’s too late. One exception: I truly believe my cats know when I’m in that zone and it fills them with the urge to demand my attention. Brats.
Fortunately most of my writing sessions can weather interruptions—if I don’t allow myself to get side-railed into doing something else.
My personal list of interruptions are loosely ordered by the frequency of occurrence.
Top Ten Writing Interruptions
This usually only happens when I’m in the Zen Zone. Suddenly I realize I’m sitting in darkness straining to see by the light of my laptop screen. When I get up to turn on the light, interruption 8, 7, 6, and/or 1 often follow.
I finish a chapter or scene and I just don’t know how to get where I want the story to go, or I can’t even decide where the story should go next. I just have to walk away and do something else.
I decide I’ve been in my office too long, I ought to clean house, cook dinner, or something.
Legs Go to Sleep
Eventually the tingling will pull me out of my writing and I have to walk and stomp the circulation back. Sometimes I can often get right back to writing since I don’t have to leave the room.
The need for a refill. Getting hungry is the same problem. There’s always a risk that once I go downstairs I won’t go back up. I’ll end up cleaning or putting in a load of laundry.
One of the cat will walk across my keyboard or just stand on it. I’m certain that they do this on purpose to get my attention. I’ve learned to save often!
I don’t usually bring either cell or land line to my office so I can often ignore the ringing.
He’ll see me sitting quietly and decides it’s a good time to start talking. He claims that if I’m really deeply engrossed I won’t look up and I even answer him without stopping my typing. Skills of a long marriage!
I’ll switch windows to Google something, or search Thesaurus.com for a word that is eluding me. The problem is too often I’ll get too involved in the research and won’t get back to the writing.
The bane of the middle aged woman. There are some mornings I’ve had fleeting thoughts of putting a laptop desk in the bathroom. I can usually get right back to the writing and sometimes that little bit of brainstorming time helps the writing process. Sometimes I don’t get back to the computer but go of to do the things I’ve been neglecting.
* The second lesson is when you find yourself beating a dead horse-put it out of it’s misery and get a new one. Authors call it killing your darlings. Laying them to rest in a bottom drawer (archived file.)