Someone was talking to herself in the bathroom at work the other day. And this time it wasn’t me. Boy, was I relieved. Because once I started talking to myself, there was no stopping. And I had a writing project to conquer.
I tend to hear a lot of voices when I am tackling a difficult writing project. For example, just last night I sat down at the computer, cracked my knuckles, and took a deep breath. As I lowered my fingers to type, the dirty dishes from the kitchen began to chatter. I looked toward the kitchen and gave the unclean dinnerware a sideways glance that would’ve sent both Mrs. Potts and Chip clattering into the cupboard.
Lord, help me focus.
After the voices dissipated, I began playing with the first sentence. Then I deleted it. Then I typed it out differently. I deleted it again. I typed, but only halfway. Because halfway through that sentence, my stomach growled. And its demand was very clear and concise.
Of course you must pick your battles. I pulled a chocolate pudding cup from the fridge. I was able to hush the grumbler easily without launching an extensive counterattack.
Lord, help me focus.
I licked the last bit of pudding from my spoon and dove back into my project. Well, I didn’t really dive. It was more like a belly flop. Because as I stared at the half-typed sentence on my screen, I realized I had forgotten what I was going to type. The entire second half of that sentence had evaporated into the lost crevices of my brain (there are a lot of those) and all I could remember about that sentence was that it was going to be a good one.
Back to square one.
Lord, please help me focus!
So now you are wondering “How does this woman ever get anything written?” “Does she have ADD?” “What do her invisible friends think about her hearing voices?”
First, I finally reached the point where I realize I don’t have to be creative. All I have to do is be me. Then my writing finally begins to flow. Second, I may have ADD, but I’ve talked to other writers. We all hear voices. And third, how did you find out about my invisible friends?
I have found techniques that help me keep my focus. Hold my attention. Enter into my own little writer’s world and shut out all distracting voices. Here are some tips.
· Pray. A lot.
· Make your writing desk as comfortable and inviting as possible. Nothing says “write me!” like a spotless desk sporting a glowing computer monitor and a punch-happy keyboard.
· Turn off everything. Except all life support systems, of course. Phones, the t.v., radio, and even the Internet must go.
· Listen to music. OK, I know I just said to turn everything off, but I do sometimes put in music that sets the mood of the scene or time period I am writing. If you use headphones, this lessens the possibility for outside distractions. Some people also use white noise.
· Let people know you are off limits. If you have a family, you can do this several ways. Set time aside on certain days. I know someone who wears a specific hat when he writes so his kids know not to bother him. I also saw a shirt that says “Go away. I’m on a deadline.” Use what works for you.
· Make yourself comfortable. Dress in what feels good. Make sure your hands rest ergonomically on the keyboard. Be sure your chair is comfy. Have your favorite beverage readily available.
· As for household responsibilities, try to set up your office space in a neat, clean area where you don’t have to look at household messes. Or, if the mess isn’t too terribly bad, go ahead and straighten up before sitting down to conquer the writing project.
Remember, it’s okay to hear voices, just so long as you shut them out from time to time. Especially when you are writing. Now, if you start talking back to the voices … well, that’s another blog post.
Never a Duh Moment
Sometimes I feel like I am in God's way. For example, if I forget an appointment or miss a deadline. Or when I place great expectations on myself and fall short. Or when I get lost because my sense of direction falters 98 percent of the time.