I raised four kids, spent years taking care of my mother, have survived illness and grief and various other disasters, so when I say that I consider myself not easily distracted, I mean it. Come hell or high water or Super Storm Sandy, I get up at 6:00 a.m. and work on my novel. But this past week a momentous event happened in my life, and for the first time I can remember, I simply could not get my mind to focus. This event was my little granddaughter’s baptism.

Beautiful baptism gown hand-sewn by Sandra Brennan (my fellow grandmother)

Over the past week my daughter, son-in-law and little granddaughter arrived. My son and his girlfriend flew in from London. My other son arrived, but his wife got sick, and so I was worried about her. My sister-in-law flew in from Colorado and 40 plus other friends and relatives converged. Meanwhile my husband and I raced to make our house as clean as possible. We assembled food, cleaned dishes, cleaned dishes, cleaned dishes. And I sat on the floor and played with my granddaughter. My mind went right out the window.

I figured that I would move my wake-up time to 5:00 a.m., and that way I’d be able to get in a little writing time before my granddaughter woke up. That did sort of work, although I did keep finding myself with my head on the computer, eyes closed.

Then, finally, I realized there are times in life you just have to embrace the moment. Writing is about joy, and it’s important to tap into that. So I relaxed, which is not something I do a lot. I drank in all the distractions. I had a lot of fun, and the baptism was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

This morning, my son and his girlfriend left for London at 5 a.m. I crept upstairs. Everything is quiet again. Dogs at my feet. Mind focused. And I wrote. Heart full of joy.

What do you do when you get distracted? Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove mystery series. Her stories have been published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. The MWA anthology, Crime Hits Home, in which she has a story, just won an Anthony Award. She teaches novel-writing at Gotham Writers and is on the staff of the New York Write to Pitch Conference. www.susanjbreen.com


  1. Susan,
    Although it was a distraction from your routine it sounds wonderful.

    Giving up a few days of writing to be surrounded by your family for the baptism of your granddaughter sounds like a good trade off to me.

  2. For people like me with ADHD structured systems for writing don’t really work, Distractions are more than distractions they keep my brain stimulated. I find therefore that deadlines work more effectively. I do a lot of professional writing (mental health) and agree to deadlines I have to meet. As the time approaches I become more anxious and then more focused and can write for longer periods of time.

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