Distractions

  Distractions! Those pesky interruptions seem to pop up everywhere when we’re trying to write. It’s even worse when we have a deadline, although facing a blank page of the beginning of a story also seems to attract distractions. Distractions come in many forms. Some are more effective than others.     Take the roosters in Mexico, where I spent two months recently. I had a book to finish, one that was challenging me as a writer more than any I have written. Now I like birds and roosters are birds, right? In St. John in the Virgin Islands where I normally spend my winters until Hurricanes Irmaria got in the way, roosters crow every morning, kind of a natural alarm clock. I consider them part of the island’s natural charm. I’ve even included them in my Sabrina Salter series set on St. John.     But the roosters in Mexico weren’t quite as charming. For eight weeks, they never stopped. Mornings. Afternoons. Evenings. All. Night. Long. There had to be two dozen of them living in the wild below our window perched high on a hill above Puerto Vallarta. I began to be able to distinguish the sounds from some of the individual roosters. There are the young and feisty that engage in an incessant crowing competition. I heard at least one old dude trying to keep up in a pathetic quivering cock-a-doodle-do. Every time I stopped to find the right word or contemplate how my protagonist would react to a particular situation, the crowing would start, irritating my nervous system and shutting down my brain. The bonus was that the roosters incited the neighborhood dogs that were compelled to respond in never-ending choruses of barking. Big deep dog sounds coupled with the yips from the little dogs so prevalent in Mexico. It was the orchestra from hell.              That brings me to music. Don’t get me wrong. I love music. It moves me and can bring me to tears, which is why I don’t listen to it when I am writing. I’m fine with other people listening to music, whenever they want, wherever they like. Just don’t inflict it on me, especially when I am writing. It’s not only that I may hate the music you love. Your music can capture me. I’m no rap fan, but the sound of the SZA song in praise of “Drew Barrymore” coming through my window at a volume that made it inescapable took me far away from what I was writing and into another world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp45V_M4Akw     Of course, the most egregious form of distraction is the one that’s letting you read this blog. Whether a laptop, tablet, or phone, a simple ping or the sight of a banner crossing the screen is an invitation to step away from what you are writing. I tell myself it’s only for a moment. A Facebook message from my friend Karen in St. John. It would be rude not to answer it, right? But shouldn’t I first check out the website for the restaurant she was telling me about so I know what I’m talking about? Wow, that’s a really great menu. I never thought of seasoning swordfish with lime and tarragon. Maybe I should check out some menus. Pinterest must have a few. And into that dark hole I fall only to climb out later ravenous after looking at hundreds of recipes I will never make. Meanwhile, my protagonist grows cold and lonely on the page.           Distractions. You know where they drive me? The one place where I know silence is golden and where I can crawl into my own head and write for hours without distractions.     A library.       What distracts you and how to you deal with it? Share in the comments or join the discussion on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/missdemeanorsbooks/           

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