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PeeDee
03-19-2007, 09:45 AM
(edited to add: Ye gads, but I talk a lot. It must be God channeling the Great Story through me.)

in On Writing, Stephen King talks about and helps quantify the idea that in order to pursue a true life of creativity, one must be prepared to do away with the distractions of the outside world.

I agree with that, in that even if you've been writing for a long time, even if you've got your system of Butt In Chair for two hours every day down pat, I think that there are plenty of elements in the rest of the world that can seriously detriment your ability to create. After all, isn't your mind running, no matter what? Mine is.

I can be a fairly disciplined writer, except when I'm really not. I used to have my life pretty pruned down and enclosed around writing, although partially I blame marriage for a change in this. After all, I'm not going to expect my wife to live a TV-less existence, just because I find it distracting. She's not a writer, that's my neurosis (sorry, I meant to type Higher Calling).

But I didn't realize until today how much it's started to pervade my life again. I spent most of the day watching TV with no regrets, and also no particular creative thoughts. I had one half-notion of a creative thought, but it was nothing more than a new direction for an old story. Hardly worth my salt for the whole day.

So! Er...roundabout way of asking: When you began to turn really inward toward creativity (a pretentious sounding thing, but to an extent, it has to be done) what did you do to shear the distractions out of your life? What did you do -- and what do you continue to do/struggle with -- in order to keep from wandering off in someone else's thickets instead of exploring and creating your own?

For me, it's little things. I've gotten my wife to stop asking me if I want to watch Crossing Jordan, Medium, NCIS, etc. The shows all have interesting and servicable storylines, but plenty of shows do. If she asks me, I say yes and I sit and watch...and then I watch Shark..and then I watch Deal or No Deal....and there goes my night.

So I've tried to prune down what TV I watch again, so that I'm back to watching interesting Discovery Channel types of shows. I have my devout shouts. I watch House, I watch Heroes. But otherwise...no more.

If my wife watches those other shows and I am not writing, then I sit next to her and read.

That's an example of me trying to shift back. I've wandered pretty far afield. What do you lot do?

RG570
03-19-2007, 10:03 AM
My solution to this is to write in front of the tv. The shower and cigarette breaks are my times for inward creativity.

Oddsocks
03-19-2007, 10:34 AM
I've found the same thing - If I'm obsessing over a show/book/anime/etc this week, then I'm not really putting much time into my own stuff. I haven't found a way of being disciplined about it yet, so for me it just goes in phases. But there's always something (sometimes internal, but often from the outside world, for that matter - anything from a fan turning to an idea in a philosophy class) which tips me back into development mode, and then that'll usually be interesting enough to sustain the next extended phase of being creative rather than feeding off other people's creativity.

ShapeSphere
03-19-2007, 11:25 AM
After all, isn't your mind running, no matter what? Mine is.

Yes, same here. I imagine politicians and pop stars have the opposite problem.

To keep me creative and free of distractions, I have recently cut down on time spent reading the news/sport or surfing humorous websites. The news is valid and worthwhile, but it was getting ridiculous to the amount of information I was processing daily.

This is a step in the right direction.

Otherwise, I don't have any other major distractions. I have a full-time non-writing job, but so do many other people. I must make time. I study Japanese, because I want to and it's vital to my life here. I have no wife (I'd definitely remember if I did)... on account of my brutally sarcastic and cynical nature.

PS. Yes, you do talk a lot. But that's cool. Just do it with the big cigar, Groucho Marx glasses and moustache, and talking like Jimmy Durante the whole time. (As you said on another thread).

skelly
03-19-2007, 12:28 PM
PeeDee I've been through what you are describing several times in my life. I've noticed that when I am really happy with the way my writing is going (idea engages me, characters gaining depth, words flowing as if God Himself where dictating to me the Great....n/m) I can't be distracted by anything, with the possible exception of a tornado. On the other hand, when I'm not happy with my writing (for any reason) cleaning the freakin bathroom suddenly begins to take on layers of meaning that I never knew existed before.

To even it all out, I make sure that my BIC time is ALL about writing and nothing else. I will take my trusty old Remington and a flashlight into a closet, or out in the garage, if I have to. No distractions allowed, and no interruptions tolerated. Then, and equally as important, when my BIC time is finished for the day, I'm done with it. I don't ponder my plot. I don't cast about for new ideas. Nothing like that. I let it go, until my next BIC time.

It was difficult at first. I'm the sort of person who would sit and write 12 to 14 hours a day if I could. Since I can't, I found that I was trying to do it mentally. All that happend is that I always had a lot of guilt because no matter what I was doing, I always felt like I should be doing something that related to my writing (taking notes about little red wagons and white chickens, let's say). But after awhile, I found out that most of that "note taking" is going on at some subconscious level anyway. Ultimately I found myself looking forward to and enjoying my BIC time more, and I found that I was a lot more productive when my B was in the C. As well, I was able to enjoy other aspects of my life (which of course provides more fuel for the writing machine) fully satisfied that I had completed that day's writing, and had more to look forward to tomorrow.

<-----Longer winded than PeeDee. Anyway, that's what works for me.

Jamesaritchie
03-19-2007, 06:07 PM
Honestly, I just keep it all pretty simple. I block out five hours to write, and I use them to write. I block out from three to five hours to read, and I use them to read. Outside of this, I don't worry about how I spend the rest of my time. One of the advantages of being a writer is being able to do what I want, when I want.

I tend to gravitate toward informational TV program. anyway, and only watch three or four TV series per week, and I sometimes miss these. But I spend plenty of time watching The Travel Channel, The Food Channels, PBS, The History Channel, etc.

But it's all choice. I watch what I want to watch, when I want to watch it.

As long as the writing gets done, and as long as the reading gets done, the rest of the day is mine to do with as I wish.

Judg
03-19-2007, 06:43 PM
I altered my signature, Absolute Write being the single largest distraction in my life right now. It's stupid, because I'm not at all obsessive about rep points, but the thought of having my hand slapped if I'm not up to quota is enough to keep me away until I've written.

C.bronco
03-19-2007, 06:46 PM
I write when they are sleeping!

Azure Skye
03-19-2007, 07:22 PM
This is why laptops were created.

Seriously, I'm so easily distracted that I couldn't get rid of the distractions if I wanted to. Hell, the birds outside at the feeder distract me but what a wonderful distraction.

Novelust
03-19-2007, 08:45 PM
I went through and deleted all but a select few of the links under my 'Favorites' menu. It's amazing how much time I spent checking silly sites for silly updates. I feel like I've got another hour in the evening.

veinglory
03-19-2007, 08:51 PM
As with any advice I think these things just depend. I have never been able to lock myself away and focus on anything. I do everything with the TV on from studying to writing. And I have a PhD and two completed novels--so I have long since stopped worrying about how these things "should" be done.

It is a matter of discovering what works best for you. TV on not working? Turn it off and if necessary throw it out the nearest window :) I do think I am on the interent a bit too much--it might be time to take a break from that.

PeeDee
03-19-2007, 08:58 PM
(I would be so dead if I threw the TV out the window...)

Anyway, sure, not every bit of advice is for everyone. I wasn't really looking for advice, I was just sort of curious what everyone did/does. I know when I first started writing, way back when, I was certain I couldn't have music going. These days, I always have something going, and it's usually loud and with words. Doesn't bother me.

I was just curious.. :)

The Lady
03-19-2007, 09:04 PM
TV is pretty close to absolute evil. Apparently in Ancient Rome, they scheduled sports and games pretty much non stop in order to keep the public continuously distracted and malleable.

I reckon tv fills the same gap nowadays. Think what we could accomplish if we didn't watch tv.

I'm trying to cut my tv time (which wasn't excessive ) out completely. I'm starting by having no switch on days, and then I intend to move into no switch on weeks. When I'm finished a no switch on month, I can dump it. But yes, I do live on my own, so I can see how hard that would be for others.

And now back to writing.

veinglory
03-19-2007, 09:05 PM
I need a moderate degree of distraction to keep going without getting bored, about the level of a talk show and a house-wandering dog seems to do it.

RumpleTumbler
03-19-2007, 09:09 PM
The History Channel

Is it just me or is it becoming the UFO/End of the world comet channel?

As part of making the time to write I'm canceling my Netflix subscription.

I've said that twice in two different threads now. I just called and canceled. That's like 12 hours a month free that I didn't have before.

PeeDee
03-19-2007, 09:10 PM
When I was younger and single, in my little studio apartment, I found the little circuit breaker box (why a studio apartment needed one was beyond me) and I flipped all three switches off and killed all the power to my whole apartment, except in the kitchen.

And then I wrote. It was a goofy thing to do, but it lasted three days. When it got dark, I used candles, when I got bored, I read a book or re-read what I'd written. It was a strange way to live for three days, but it was peaceful and it was fun, and I got a ton of writing done.

C.bronco
03-19-2007, 09:11 PM
I like TV when I have the chance to watch it (especially on Sunday afternoons during Nascar season :) I also like Mail Call, Mythbusters and HGTV.
I do have to add, when I am home alone (which is never nowadays), I leave the TV off. Quiet is under-rated.

Namatu
03-19-2007, 09:25 PM
What works best for me is to write every day. It keeps me disciplined (when I do it). The main problem, obviously, is that I can't maintain it indefinitely. I can do stretches, but then something interferes and my writing streak hits a boulder. This also tends to happen if something's gone wrong in a scene and I haven't consciously realized it. I'll remain stuck or willfully distracted until I figure out what's wrong.

I started to write scenes down in notebooks because I work on the computer all day and am often reluctant to come home and assume the position again. This helps, but I still don't do it often enough.

So, every day. Must do it in some fashion every day.

Southern_girl29
03-19-2007, 10:20 PM
I grew up with a younger brother and sister, who were loud. We lived in a small house, so if they were in one room making noise, I could hear it. I grew accostomed to having that noise, so now, I can't work without it. The television is on when I'm doing my butt in chair. I think if it was off, I wouldn't be able to concentrate.

I don't turn inward until 10 at night. That's when I start writing. I do think about my WIP on the way to and from work because I have a 30 minute drive one way. However, once I get home from work, I spend time with my daughter. If she's awake, I don't write. I will read, though, and often to read to her. But, the five or so hours a day of wake time we have together is very important to me since I do work. So, I try not to think about my WIP while I'm working with her.

Once she's in the bed, I spend time with my husband and then at 10 on the dot, I start writing and do so until midnight. I'm in the zone then.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 10:23 PM
I live on my own.

God knows what I'll do if/when I get married. Tell my hubby to sod off for a few hours each day I guess. Call me before he gets home so I can save my work and switch the PC off. Who knows?!

Jamesaritchie
03-19-2007, 10:45 PM
Is it just me or is it becoming the UFO/End of the world comet channel?

As part of making the time to write I'm canceling my Netflix subscription.

I've said that twice in two different threads now. I just called and canceled. That's like 12 hours a month free that I didn't have before.

It does seem to be headed in that direction, doesn't it. There are still a few shows on worth watching, but if I had to pay extra for The History Channel, I'd cancel, too. It has gone downhill. But it comes with our basic cabel, so I couldn't cancel if I wanted to.

PeeDee
03-19-2007, 10:47 PM
I don't know, I get quite a lot of interesting shows off of things like the Science Channel, and Discovery HD. I could do with a little less American Chopper (because I honestly don't care) and a little more NOVA (is that even still around?) but I still get enough interesting shows to justify having the channels.

I wish I could replace all the other stupid channels I get with more science channels, really. CNN would be out the window.

Namatu
03-19-2007, 11:49 PM
I've also heard an interesting theory that everything is motivated by the desire for pleasure or the avoidance of pain. The idea is that people will do just about anything to avoid pain/effort (i.e. writing, gym, etc), and will do anything to gain pleasure (i.e. watching TV, eating chocolate, etc). Identifying those choices that are for the wrong reasons is a good place to start and something I'm not very good at. ;)
This theory doesn't work in my case. I have little trouble working out every day, even when I know it will inflict pain on me. ;) And I often watch TV more out of habit than pleasure. I love the act of writing. I hate starting to write. On that, I have no idea why. It's the procrastination button.

Elodie-Caroline
03-19-2007, 11:55 PM
Although the TV is on in the same room as I'm writing, it doesn't distract me in the least, my hubby watches what he wants on the TV, and I can write away to my hearts content on my PC.

I find the internet more of a distraction than the TV. I have been a member of a travel website for nearly 6 years and have many friends on there, I have also met many of them in real life too. Then there's this site, AW. I really like to read the boards and reply to some of it, plus I have learnt a few handy bits and pieces here and there, so i guess all is not wasted.


Elodie

PeeDee
03-19-2007, 11:58 PM
Yeah, AW is turning into a major distraction for me, something I'm not sure how to remedy quite yet (because leaving isn't an option; not quite yet).

The TV doesn't bother me if it's a show I really don't care about, but I'm easily drawn by stories. I can write my way through 7th Heaven pretty well, god knows, but even a simple episode of Crossing Jordan gets my attention. I'm too story-oriented for my own good. :)

Elodie-Caroline
03-20-2007, 12:13 AM
Yep, PeeDee, I like stories on TV too. I mostly like British Police series the best: Inspector Morse, Frost, Prime suspect, Midsommer murders etc, but seeing as they aren't on all that much, then I don't bother to watch TV. Oh yes, I also love foreign films when they're on too. But I reckon I only watch around 3 hours per week at most of TV.
I really like AW too, but seeing as I don't really know anyone well enough on here to call a friend, then I just come to read the postings about writing, mostly, reply to what takes my fancy, and then go back to my writing. It's a good job I don't know anyone too well, otherwise I'd spend a lot longer on here talking to them LOL :D
Then there's my photography, that also takes up a lot of my time, I sort out a lot of my photos on the PC too :)

Akuma
03-21-2007, 06:18 AM
You had to go and mention House in front of me. . .

http://macrochan.org/source/Z/N/ZN6GFYLJMZTGUEPUIBFDM2AAMHL2QEHR.gif

God, I love that show.

swvaughn
03-21-2007, 06:07 PM
I am extremely unsettled lately. I have this do-or-die urgency thing going on, where I have to have to get things moving, and things like work that pays me and keeping the house running and that movie I've been dying to watch for weeks are just getting in the way... not to mention the surprising and sudden satisfaction I've discovered from hanging around here and actually coming into contact with other writers.

I'm a freelancer in addition to a novelist, and I work at home, alone, all day. My husband and son are here at night and I try not to work when they're awake (but they both go to bed early so I end up working all night). I've been at this for several years, and I think I'm just now realizing that as much as being around people a lot bothers me (I may be agoraphobic, I'm definitely introverted, and the only time I can deal with crowds is my bi-annual trek to NYC for work), I miss interacting with real -- albeit electronically rendered -- intelligent folks.

So I've been spending far too much time here. :D But that's beside the point.

Did I have a point? What's the topic, again? Oh... creative introspection and distractions, right? I'm fortunate in that I don't watch TV ever, and the only shows the guys here like are Heroes and Naruto. Since we don't have cable, they watch them online. We do love our movies but that's a few-times-a-week distraction.

I lose time because I stall and stall and stall on my freelance stuff, because right now it's the absolute last thing I want to be doing. I'm finally getting the hang of this novel writing bit (after ten years, it's about time) and I'm so impatient for something to happen.

None of this makes any sense at all, does it?

-SW, longer-winded than Pete and everyone else on this thread, and picking up Maprilynne's sign-off habits. :D

TsukiRyoko
03-22-2007, 09:04 AM
I'm always sure to write at night, so I can indulge in my writing as much as possible and say, "Screw the world!". But, outside distractions still manage to creep their way in sometimes.

I find the best thing to do is take a day off work, cancel all your appointments and whatnot, tell your wife to scram for a bit, and sit there and write/think about writing. No television, quiet/no music, just you and your writing. For a whole day. Don't let yourself move (even if you have to pee, say to yourself, "One more paragraph One more paragraph! Ehn, I gotta peeeeee!!!!!"). Don't worry about editing or anything that day, just encourage the creative juices to flow at their maximum potential.

Also, if you find you can't even write in the Screw Everything, I'm Writing environment, prop a squat and read. All day. Don't stop until you crash. The wife says, "Hey, come here for a minute, it's an emergency." You say, "Go away! Do it yourself!" (Well, okay, if it's an emergency, go see if she's okay, you ass, but when the water has settled, go grab your book!) Don't let anything distract you. Read, read, read, read, read, read. If you feel the urge to write during this rabid reading process, by all means do so. But be sure not to let yourself get distracted by anything else.

Now, I know this plan sounds crazy. But then, we're all friggin' crazy, so why the hell not give it a try?

Good luck!

PeeDee
03-22-2007, 09:09 AM
Also, if you find you can't even write in the Screw Everything, I'm Writing environment, prop a squat and read. All day. Don't stop until you crash. The wife says, "Hey, come here for a minute, it's an emergency." You say, "Go away! Do it yourself!" (Well, okay, if it's an emergency, go see if she's okay, you ass, but when the water has settled, go grab your book!) Don't let anything distract you. Read, read, read, read, read, read. If you feel the urge to write during this rabid reading process, by all means do so. But be sure not to let yourself get distracted by anything else.

The bit about screwing everything and just writing was a wash, because I've just had five days off from work with nothing expected of me but writing (and I wrote a total of about 1,000 words in five days.)

But the reading idea, now that's a great idea. That's a really great idea. I haven't just read my way through a day until my eyes throbbed in a long time.

TsukiRyoko
03-22-2007, 09:17 AM
The bit about screwing everything and just writing was a wash, because I've just had five days off from work with nothing expected of me but writing (and I wrote a total of about 1,000 words in five days.)

But the reading idea, now that's a great idea. That's a really great idea. I haven't just read my way through a day until my eyes throbbed in a long time.
Reading always helps me out of my slumps. Usually the prolonged BIC method works well enough, but I agree that it just isn't enough sometimes. (I had perfect eyesight until the 5th grade, and they've gone rapidly downhill ever since.... I think the reading method has some side effects, but they're worth it, right?)

Every book I've ever read has helped get my spark back. Go grab a heap of books from somewhere, and don't take your eyes off the page until it's finished!

PeeDee
03-22-2007, 09:24 AM
I can just grab the "books people have sent me to read" stack instead of staring guiltily at it.

Very cool idea. I'll do that tomorrow.

TsukiRyoko
03-22-2007, 09:27 AM
I can just grab the "books people have sent me to read" stack instead of staring guiltily at it.

Very cool idea. I'll do that tomorrow.
Come to think of it, I have a meaty pile of books in the corner that I either haven't gotten to yet, or have just thumbed through. I might take my own advice and prop a squat somewhere....