Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Distractions Can Kill...Your Productivity

No, I'm not talking about texting and driving.  Although, that's not very safe.  I'm talking about how distractions can kill your writing.  This may seem like common sense and it is, but that doesn't stop us from getting distracted now, does it?  I mean, you are here reading this right now, aren't you?

Often being aware of the problem and the main culprits can go a long way to curbing the habit of not-writing:

Television - Obvious, right?  I know some who say they like the background noise, but that would only apply if what's on television is a truly awful show that was not in the least bit engaging.  If that's the case, why have it on in the first place?

Music - I like listening to music while I work, especially when it can help set the mood for whatever project I am working on.  Digging into the darker aspects of humanity with MINDFIELD, movie scores like Black Swan and Donnie Darko are perfect.  Exploring the limitless powers of Captain Atom, how about 2001: A Space Odyssey?  But for me, no matter what, it's got to be instrumental.  Once you throw lyrics in, that's a problem.  

Eating - Sure, we all need a snack break from time to time in order to recharge the batteries, but the constant flow from chair to fridge and back again keeps you from writing.  Even if you are "thinking" or "mulling things over."  Not writing is not writing. I'm not saying don't eat - just don't fool yourself into thinking that staring at your computer screen for twenty minutes while you down a bag of cheetos is writing. 

Checking Email - I know we all need to stay in contact with the outside world, but do you really need to check your email more than once every couple of hours?  If something is so vital, they'll call.  Or text. 

"Research" - I don't put the term in quotes to suggest that research is not a vital part of writing, it is.  But, it's not putting words on the page.  If you are in the middle of something, don't break the flow to research something online or in a book.  Go back and figure it out later.  If I'm in the middle of writing a comic script, breaking story down, working on dialogue, laying out the scene, the last thing I should do is spend fifteen minutes finding a reference image of the Vatican, which will only lead me to a movie trailer, funny or die video, twitter update, and checking my email.  What starts out as a one-minute search has a way of becoming a lost half-hour if not more.

Internet - Okay, so maybe I will just make it plain.  The Internet is like crack.  Once you start surfing and clicking, the possibilities are endless.  And, I mean endless. Not to mention often pointless.

Life itself - To the best of your ability, try to find a place to work free from the rest of your life.  Working in the kitchen, maybe you'll notice the dirty dishes piling up in the sink.  In your bedroom, what about all that laundry to do?  Do you have a desk?  Great.  You can pay the bills sitting in the top drawer, and balance your checkbook while you are at it.  SO, if these chores of life gnaw at you, try to get away from them altogether.  I've found libraries can be great for this, although their free wi-fi can sneak up and bite you in the ass. 

Remember, sometimes the hardest part of writing is simply locking yourself in the chair and punching those keys. 

Good luck. 

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