Tag Archives: distractions

The Roving Writer

As much as I try to make my home a comfortable, quiet place to devote myself to the craft of writing, there are times when things fall out of the span of my control.

Whether it is a symphony of leaf blowers, a neighbour’s dog barking for hours, another neighbour’s ailing muffler, a charming visitor to the neighbourhood who needs to turn the car alarm on and off seven times, or the apparent decision to suddenly reroute all air traffic directly above my house, auditory distractions are a fact of life.

Then add to the mix an extroverted attention-seeking cat, a ringing home phone, an empty coffee cup, a ringing doorbell, a load of laundry ready for drying, and the ding to indicate that my gluten-free banana bread is ready to come out of the oven.

When I reach into my desk drawer for a USB stick, I find a pair of old glasses that needs to be donated, I spot the case for the iPhone I carried in 2009 (that won’t fit anything today) and before I know it, I am in spring cleaning mode.

As I head back to my desk, I notice the wall I have been meaning to spackle in preparation for painting.

Moments later, I remember that the litter box needs “refreshing”.

When I finally return to my blog post, I write a few words and then take a moment to stare off into the distance between paragraphs. My mind drifts and I ask myself, “when was the last time I dusted that shelf?”

When I look in the other direction, I see Ivy the Wonder Cat’s favourite blanket and think to myself that it is probably due for a thorough washing.

At this rate, it’s a wonder that I succeed in publishing a weekly blog post. Continue reading

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When Art Takes Years to Complete

About 15 years ago, I was visiting the National Gallery of Canada, taking in the beauty of the permanent collection of artwork. As I was admiring the masterpieces, I was also examining the little cards next to them, taking note of the names of artists, the names of the artwork, the year the work was created and the backstory behind the masterpiece.

I noticed that some works did not have a single year next to them, but instead, a range of years like “1950-1952” was indicated, and I wondered to myself why would that be. For years after that, I kept wondering why it could take months or years to complete a work of art from beginning to end.

That was until I started blogging… then I completely got it!

In a perfect world, I could sit at my desk, write a blog post from beginning to end, proofread it and post it. In theory, it is a pretty simple process. But in reality, for me, that particular scenario might happen in 1 out of every 20 posts.

For the other 19, it is a process that takes time.

In the same way that visual artists need to sketch, that actors need to rehearse and that musicians need to jam, writers also require time to experiment with ideas to see what works. Continue reading

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Great Ideas: A Roller Coaster of Emotion

roller-coasterThe joy of coming up with a great idea!
The panic of not having a piece of paper or an electronic device to record it.
The fear of losing the great idea.
The hope you’ll remember it.
The sadness when you don’t remember it.
The elation when it comes back.
The delight of being at a computer this time to record it.
The irritation of having to wait for software updates to finish installing.
The annoyance of not finding a pen to record it until the software update installation has completed.
The terror when other things start distracting you.
The relief when the updates are completed.
The peace of mind of finally writing the idea down somewhere… anywhere.
The indecision of whether the idea is good enough as is.
The determination to work through it to make it the best idea ever. Continue reading

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Top 10 Things That Short Circuit My Writing Process

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For writers, staying focused can be challenging at the best of times. Sometimes it is hard to tell whether life is the thing that happens between writing sessions or vice versa, but generally everyone has a lot going on. As a result, it is no surprise that life can sometimes distract us and keep us from what we love to do most, so we must persevere.

However, despite an extensive arsenal of techniques to stay focused in putting pen to paper or to keep the computer keys clicking, there are some things that can completely derail my ability to write.

Here they are, the Top 10 things that can short circuit my writing process:

10 – The sound of a vacuum cleaners
At the office in particular, it can sometimes be like a living game of Pac-man as I try to hide from the housekeeping staff running the vacuum cleaner (invariably, at that precise time, I always seem to have an urgent request that requires just the right words at the right time to get the tasking right), yet the vacuum people always seem to find me. I hide in another cubicle, they find me again, and so on.

9 – The sound of leaf blowers
While I am most grateful for the fact that my condo has a lawn maintenance crew, I don’t know how I defy the odds in that whatever day of the week I might choose to take a day off work, it always seems to be the lawn maintenance day that week. I seem to be able to write while they are mowing the lawns but the overpowering wall of sound by leaf blowers is like kryptonite to me.

8 – Hunger
When my stomach growls louder than a leaf blower, words will not flow. Period. Continue reading

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