Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I was starting to ask the question, "Do distractions take anyone else away from writing like they do me?" and then I deleted it. Of course they do! Distractions are the bane of a writer's life. Health and money distractions are the worst. How can you argue with someone to write when they have pressing concerns? You can't. Although I have one friend who's having trouble at home and she finds that the more she has trouble, the more she is obsessed with writing.

How nice! I said.

Nice? she said.

Yes, nice! You're writing!

Oh, well, I guess I am, she said.

The last couple of weeks for me have been a bit nerve-racking. Waiting for results to medical tests (everything's fine, it seems). But the waiting has been very distracting. So distracting, in fact, that I've done so little on my novel. Other work, yes. But fiction, no. Thinking about it, planning, plotting--yes. Writing--no.

What a waste.

When I'm distracted in that way, I do other things. Work I have to do, and I knit. I knit so much in the last couple of weeks that my thumbs hurt.

I think of writers I know who've encountered terrifically difficult challenges and got their writing done anyway. One such writer will be on my show tomorrow--T. Jefferson Parker.

What about all of you out there? Time to stop lurking. Post here. Tell me (us) what you do when faced with health and money distractions.


Anonymous said...

But in the end, Barbara, isn't that what we write about or should write about. It's the stuff life is made of.

Anonymous said...

Yes. But isn't it hard writing about it when you're enmeshed? What do YOU do about distractions of the sort?

Anonymous said...

I can't speak to the health distraction - although when my wife was sick I found myself in the hospital chapel. As to the ups and downs of finances (and over a lifetime there have been some) It was at the lows that I was forced to be the most creative. I focused on the problem and cut out all the other distractions. All of them.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to hear your tests turned out fine, but they must have been pretty concerning for you to have been creatively sidetracked. Hopefully, you're back on track now. I can't speak to money or health distractions, but I can certainly speak to the "mommy" ones. I don't want to minimize any health concerns with complaints about my daily distractions as a mom (and wife) to two young girls and two dogs, but my whole life is distractions at this point. I'm surprised I make any headway on my novel. I know the distractions make me feel more appreciative of the uninterrupted creatvity when it occurs, that's for sure. I just try to deal with them and get back to my desk ASAP. I'm wondering if seriously ill, would it make me write more and faster?? I'm not sure. Perhaps knitting is more comforting to you at such times?

Allison Johnson said...

For me, writing, especially fiction writing, is an escape, a place to go when I'm stressed or distracted with money or health concerns. When my daughter was a baby, we were going through a challenging financial season. I looked forward to my writing time. I still do. Maybe because I was a late bloomer in terms of writing.

I often use whatever I'm going through to capture the feelings and work through the stress--quite often by writing an essay about it. Each day I get to sit down at my desk feels like a gift.

In times of extreme stress I take a break from writing to take care of pressing matters and if possible, escape to my desk to jot down a few thoughts.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, Barbara, when I'm completely unable to focus on the problem and ignore the distractions, I fill a medium size glass with orange juice and just a smidgen of Jack Daniels. It doesn't solve anything but it helps my knees.

Anonymous said...

I've always had financial distractions. Probably always will, unfortunately! I have found writing will take me away from my problems as long as the problems aren't big ones.
If I waited to be happy, healthy, and financially sound before I wrote anything, I wouldn't be a writer!

Anonymous said...

So now it's Valentines Day and I have the flu. I called Cartier's for a Bauble to be delivered between the hours of 3:30 and 3:35 this afternoon or to cancel the order. So now I've got health and financial distractions. Am going to take a nap. Happy Valentines Day to all.