Sunday, 17 January 2016

Just Sit Down and Write - Motivation and Distraction

So often I hear the words, sit down on write. If you want to finish a book, short story or whatever it is, it takes hard work and sometimes there are just many shinny distractions available to take up that time and effort that it takes to write. Many of those distractions that am thinking of now, why because those distractions are so much easier (and fun) than writing this blog post.

Now distractions can take a number of forms – the internet, social media (facebook and youtube – you are very guilty of this), television, computer games make up the less ‘noble’ (for lack of a better term) forms of distractions. When you are taking part in these activities then at least you know that you are being distracted – you can’t play minecraft or watch the TV. And as well as this being the most recognisable distractions, you can walk away from these – you can turn off the TV, the broadband or even go out to the cafĂ© or the distraction free library to get those words out. And the other good thing about these distractions is that they can be used as rewards after you have done your writing.

That brings us onto the more noble types of distractions – the things that have to be done e.g. cleaning the house and the things that help you write. Background noise can be a big one here. Peacefully on, it can help you to write but let that music get too loud or too interesting and it quickly becomes a distraction. And then we come quickly onto the topic of research. We all need to do research to write, especially those of us that write genre fiction to help us build our worlds. The trick is judging when you have done the right amount of research and when to start writing. If anyone can actually fully do this, well then I’ll take my hat off to you.

Then there are the emotional distractions – as one member of our group described it this the crippling self-doubt; an unconscious aversion to sticking my head up above a non-existent herd, that even if it did exist, wouldn't actually give a crap what I was doing. The comparison to others and the belief you just aren’t that good. I find personally that this distraction often comes midway through first draft and the only way that I get rid of this is reminding myself that no one other than me has to see the first draft. By the time others see, well it will have been through several more drafts, so it didn’t matter that the first draft pretty much sucked.

The worse type of distraction are the ones that pop around from one too another. What do they say about the grass being greener?

Incidentally, no one listed, reading as common distraction too, probably because that’s not an easy lay on the sofa activity either.

So if it is this hard and there are so many distractions in the way, then why do we do it. Well, for me, it’s because for lack of better words then – I’m a storyteller. My brain jumps from creative idea to creative idea and I need to share them, so why not write, so I can make room for more little gems. But what got me going originally was travel and bad books. I was backpacking around south east Asia – Penh Penn in Siem Reap to be exact, and there was no English language TV in the evenings, so I was stuck with books. And I read this book, which shall remain nameless, and it was dreadful – I didn’t even finish it, which given the lack of alternatives is saying something. Instead my head created this new world, I gathered all the basic details of the story and when I finished travelling it was fully formed and I needed to start writing it. I still need to write it, to tell that story and that is a key motivator for me.

Others have similar motivations to this. Writing keep you sane, helps you figure out ideas in your head, continues and develops on something that you love, in short writing is what you love doing.

And there are the smaller motivators, encouraging words from friends, word count goals, getting into the flow of a story, catching a new idea (quite often when you wake up with it at 3am), reading, fresh air and that feeling of achievement when you have done.

So in conclusion, if you are a writer, then you write and you tend not to get caught up in those distracts for too long. Now all, think about why you started writing and go write – you’ll feel better after you get those words down.

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