Friday, August 10, 2012

Top 5 Distractions that Keep Writers from Finishing, a guest post by author Becca Puglisi + GIVEAWAY!


Last year as I was making my start in the world of blogging and writing, I discovered the blog The Bookshelf Muse. This blog featured all sorts of amazing goodies for writers, including various thesauruses to assist writers with character traits, setting, and more. The bloggers behind The Bookshelf Muse, Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman, decided to compile their emotion thesaurus into a book. The Emotion Thesaurus was released in May. Ever since I got a copy for my Nook, I can't stop using it! I have found it very useful when I struggle to find the right words to show what my character is going through emotionally.

It is my pleasure to welcome Becca Puglisi to Thoughts At One In The Morning. She is going to share with us some distractions we face as writers and how we can keep them from preventing us from finishing our novel.

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Distractions that Keep Writers from Finishing

We writers can be a bit like magpies. We sit down to write, but one little sparkly thing catches our eye, and pretty soon it’s two hours later and we haven’t written a word. Knowing what tends to distract you can keep you on your guard and increase your chances of finishing that novel you’ve been working on for way too long. Distractions come in all forms, but here are the ones I’ve found to be most common:

1.Social Media. Might as well get the obvious one out of the way. You sit down, fully intending to write, but then, Oh, I need to Retweet that post, or Let me just reply to that Facebook message. Unless you’ve got self-will like a chastity belt, you’re not going to be able to just anything on social media. It sucks you in and pretty soon you’ve frittered away a significant portion of your writing time. Solution: To prevent this, designate certain times for social media and other times for writing, and never the ‘twain shall meet. Twitter away during allotted time, but don’t even click on those sites when you’re supposed to be writing.

2. The “Little” Things. We all wear many hats, and sometimes our looming To Do lists make it hard to focus on writing. So come drafting time, to ease our guilt, we start by checking off a few of the “little” things on our list—items that won’t take much time: ordering new checks, scheduling an appointment, mailing a birthday card. But these little things tend to remind us of other little things, and soon enough—again—we’re appalled to see how late it is and how little has been written. Solution: Plan for the “little” things. I write during my kids’ quiet time, for two hours each afternoon. Every two weeks, I take one of those afternoon slots and use it to get that miscellaneous stuff done. When something else I’m supposed to do pops into my head while I’m writing, I add it to the list. Knowing that everything will be taken care of in the near future enables me to focus on my writing.

3. Research. If you’re not a planner, this may not apply so much to you. Personally, I LOVE planning (as you can see from my propensity to schedule everything). But there’s always a temptation to over-plan, to want to research every little thing for the story before drafting. Solution: Set a realistic goal for the planning stage, knowing that at the end of that time, you will begin actual writing. Research the most important topics first so if you don’t get all of the planning done, you can still write your story. When drafting, highlight areas that need more research and take care of those when the first draft is finished so as not to interrupt the drafting stage.

4. Editing. I’m pretty sure we’ve all fallen into this trap. We’re drafting away, the story’s coming along nicely when we realize that we’ve started in the wrong spot. So we go back and rewrite the first three chapters. Onward, once again, then we remember that awesome bit of plotting advice we read in Save The Cat. Back we go, to address that. Then our critique group brings up an issue with the main character that we never saw coming. So it’s back to the drawing board. Discouragement soon sets in because it’s taking you so dang long to finish this novel, and before long, you’ve got a really great first three chapters and nothing much at all after the midpoint. Solution: When drafting, don’t look back. When you finish writing one scene, move on to the next. If you realize you’ve got a problem to fix, write it down so you can address it when you’re done, and move on. Leave your edits for the editing stage and keep the drafting stage sacred to drafting.

5. Fun stuff. No matter how dedicated we are as writers, it’s easy to be distracted by the fun stuff. People call during writing time and want to chat; they invite you to lunch; Macy’s is having a one-day sale. Solution: The truth of the matter is, this is your job. If you’re serious about writing as a career, then call your writing time what it is: working. Turn off your phone while you’re working. Don’t take a three-hour lunch while you’re working. Reward yourself with a new pair of shoes after the first draft is finished. All of this is hard. Who wouldn’t want to be shopping or digging into a piece of Chili’s Molten Chocolate Cake? When temptations arise, remind yourself of why you’re doing this job to begin with. Keep the bigger goal in mind and discipline yourself to only work during writing time.

Whew! My gosh, there are dozens of distractions for us writers; this is definitely the short list. What keeps you from finishing?

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Thank you Becca! I know I've faced all of these distractions many times, especially with editing and excessive internet time. I am learning though, and plan on putting these solutions into practice next time I'm distracted. ^_^

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Becca Puglisi
Becca Puglisi is one half of The Bookshelf Muse blogging duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression. Listing the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with 75 different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion. The Emotion Thesaurus is available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords, and the PDF can be purchased directly from her blog.

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The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression

One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character's emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each.

Written in an easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them.

This writing tool encourages authors to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.

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GIVEAWAY!

Becca has kindly offered to give away a PDF copy of The Emotion Thesaurus. You want it? I know you do!

Rules:
1. You must be a follower.
2. You must be over 15 years old.
3. This is open internationally.
4. You can earn one extra entry by commenting on this blog post with an answer to Becca's question above.
4. This contest runs from August 10th to 17th.
6. Winner will be selected on August 18th and notified via blog post announcement and email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for reading, following, and entering!

24 comments:

  1. Oh my ... doesn't it all ring true? Granted, Social Media is one of the main culprits when it comes to distraction, but my personal favorite *drumroll please* must be editing ... I can't just write and write and write without looking back and re-writing and changing and (well, you get the idea) and I guess I don't have to point out how much time this habit eats away? *sigh*
    Something else that keeps me from finishing is what I call the Diet Excuse. I try to get all kinds of (mostly) everyday stuff done because I know not doing it will only distract me when I finally sit down. Of course I never manage to fit it all in and when it's already late and I'm tired I say to myself "I'll start tomorrow!" (like a diet, see).

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  2. Ahh, yes, the ol' I'll Start Tomorrow bit. ;) The only solution I've found for this is the Butt In Chair response. There are times when we just have to force ourselves to sit down and do the work.

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  3. Great advice Becca. I can easily get lost in research...

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  4. Birgit: I'm exactly the same way! My recent dilemma is your Diet Excuse--I have a huge list of things to do and once I get a few things done, then I let myself sit down. I need to get into the opposite habit, sit down first, then take care of something on the list if it needs done. :)

    Becca: I think I need to make a sign that says Butt In Chair.

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  5. Also guilty of succumbing to the procrastination trap. I'll convince myself that I lack ideas what to write and can "get around to it" when inspiration strikes. Editing while still drafting is hard to avoid, too. I'm learning to accept that a first draft doesn't have to be perfect from the beginning and that getting the words on the page is more important at that point.

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  6. Bish: I've done that a few times too.

    R.A.B.: It is hard not to keep changing what we've already written. I think we just want it to be perfect, but getting the words on the page is the best way. :)

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  7. Keeps me from finishing? The Internet, of course.

    Goal for today? Write two blog posts. And do math school stuff. Hopefully.

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  8. The Internet seems to be a major distraction for writers. For me, it's also noise. The sound of my siblings doing their thing, music that isn't my own, people walking around... I've realized writing after midnight helps limit the distractions.

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    1. Sadly, I struggle with this, too. I need perfect quiet and focus to write, which is nearly impossible with toddlers running around. I've definitely had to adjust my schedule to make it work.

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  9. Right now the Olympics are on my television non-stop. My kids not being in school for the summer are always a known distraction that never fails to keep me from my writing, no matter how much I plan to write over the summer.

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  10. My main distraction is the family. No matter what I'm doing, being at the computer is synonymous with 'not important' and, therefore, I am the prime person to do whatever it is other people are too busy for. Even secluding myself does no good as they keep barging in one after the other. I swear, it's deliberate.

    And they wonder why I stay up until everyone's been in bed for ages to do my 'not important' stuff. -_-

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    1. Gosh, I wish I had a solution for this. But when your family's clamoring, what can you do??

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  11. Research is probably the main thing that keeps me distracted. ^^' I'm very picky about details, and when I'm not sure I'm using the correct term or phrases I'll just stop typing mid-sentence and spend maybe 10 or so minutes (maybe even more!) googling the littlest things. xD

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  12. This is all great advice. Can't help but feel that by perusing ways to quit wasting time is kind of a waste of time though. ;) I tease, I tease!

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  13. Those are definitely some top writing distractions! I'm sure I've run into all them at one point or another.

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  14. Thank you everyone for your experiences. It is nice to know we're not alone. I'm glad I'm in good company and hopefully we'll all be able to find ways to keep from getting distracted! ^_^

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  15. RE-writing, re-planning, re-plotting ... is my curse. Seems I never get finished tinkering with things - often small things - in the outline. Or I start writing character bios instead. Or draw that map I think I need ...

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  16. Great tips. I have actually felt like I'd never get off the first chapter when editing after a critique, editing after another critique, etc. Writing down the ideas and coming back to it later might actually help me get one than one chapter written. :)

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  17. Lack of sitting butt in chair and perfectionism are the primary things that keep me from finishing.

    julesreffner(at)gmail(dot)com

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  18. I get easily distracted by the internet and catching up on chores.
    I need to spend more time with my muse.

    Janet

    jkbsfsd at msn dot com

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  19. It's all about the facebook and youtube. It keeps me from actually writing. Itunes/creating playlists doesn't help, either. x

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  20. I have many distractions: reading, Twitter, Tumblr, other story ideas that "conveniently" pop into my head, online kiddie games that I just can't let go of, and just lack of confidence I guess. There's probably more, but I'm going to save you the time of reading them all. Sadly I haven't found a solution to any of these :\ but I'll keep trotting along until I finish SOMETHING!

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  21. Thanks for stopping by everyone! For anyone who entered the giveaway: Good luck! I hope all of you can push the distractions aside and finish your novels. ^_^

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  22. I think what keeps me from finishing is expectations that I place on myself. Like I'll read a really great and popular book and then expect myself to write something equally as good. Because of this, I tend to put off writing because I'm afraid what I write won't be good enough. Though when you talked about writing being a job it really struck a chord with me. I really should start treating it like a job.

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