Distractions and the Art of Writing

Okay – think back to your childhood… I bet playing outside was a pretty big part of it. I know it was for me. We lived on an acre and my mother consistently chased us outdoors to climb trees, ride bikes, and chase the chickens. (Yes, we had chickens right there in the middle of Winter Park! Just look at this post I did a while back for the Central Florida Top 5 about growing up in Winter Park.)

In fact, I think I probably wrote hundreds of stories (novel length) as I was acting them out with the imaginary supporting characters in my front yard. I had chalk to draw all over the driveway. (Classic yellow from my mother’s classroom – no real sidewalk chalk back then!) And my dogs would roped into playing a part, along with my dolls, and my bike would be a spaceship or at least a hovercraft as shown to me by Star Wars.  Imagination was my greatest strength, I am sure, but it developed out of necessity.

Bess Auer riding her new bike on Christmas day with new Raggedy Ann doll.

I also remember being intrigued but at the same time disappointed in that magical electronic device called the television. Remember getting up early on Saturday mornings to go watch Hanna Barbera cartoons or Land of the Lost? But also keep in mind as soon as 11:00 a.m. came, the children’s programming was over and switched to stuffy men in 70’s business suits discussing politics or, even worse, hours of bowling would come on! Ugh!

Professional bowling dominated 1970s television.

So what is the point of this blog post? Time and lack of distractions.

In my childhood there were few things to distract my train of thought away from a book or from writing in my journal. I could go for hours upon hours because there was no cell phone, no video game–yeah, Atari didn’t hold anyone’s attention for long!–no internet, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and certainly no 24-hour kid friendly programming on multiple channels! I look at my now teenage son, who has grown up with all of these things, and find it a wonder he ever picks up a book or sits down to write a paper!

My son’s mode of studying: He sits on the couch with his textbook and spiral open. But at the same time he also has the television tuned to replays of the Big Bang Theory, his computer open to Facebook or YouTube (depending on his mood), and his phone buzzing several times a minute with twelve friends texting him. I try to chastise him, but he is now old enough to set some parameters for himself, and his report cards show he actually can cope this way. I don’t have much of an argument when he makes honor roll in advanced classes time after time!

While this isn't my family - it very well could be!

But now I look at myself, struggling to finish a first draft of the tentatively titled “The Secret Society of Words.” The writing is calling my name, but so is Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, this blog, and even GoodReads. I feel like I need to check my email and get it out of the way so I can then settle down and write… the only problem is I never seem to get these distractions “out of the way.” Something else interesting always pops up!

Aaaaargh! I am going to have to do a self-imposed exile of such distractions if I’m going to finish this manuscript, much less revise it and get it ready for publishing! I’ll get right on it after this blog post… and after I pin a few more pics to Pinterest…