Have you ever sat down to write, looked out your window, and thought, “Damn, I really want to be outside”?
Well, that’s how I feel today.
In Estonia we get an average of sixty days of sunshine a year. Most of them are not in the fall, unfortunately. So you can imagine I’d much rather be out walking around in the sunshine than writing a blog post. With that in mind, today I’d like to play off Chris’ post about writing after absences. What can we do, as writers, when we can’t seem to focus on our work?
A change in scenery
I know this seems a bit hypocritical, given that I’m still indoors (I’m going out as soon as I finish this, I promise), but getting out of the house is crucial. Get out of the office. Go for a walk. If you only see the sun once every two to three weeks, don’t sit inside and stare at it from the window. When it’s cold, it’s not easy to write outside, but you can get a lot of ideas by walking around. Or, if it works for you, you can go to a café or a library to write. There are a lot of options.
Do something else
This may also seem like a counterproductive form of procrastination (and it might be), but when I can’t focus, I do something totally unrelated to work. Watch an episode of a show that inspires you or read a novel. I know that when I read a good book, it makes me want to write my own all the more. But if you go off on a separate path for a while, be sure you come back to what you were supposed to be doing.
Cut yourself off from distractions
I love my friends on Skype, but once I start talking to them, it’s impossible for me to get anything done. Even though we may have many writing friends, writing is still a solitary venture. You and you alone are writing your novel. You and you alone can get the words on the page. If sprints with others work for you, then by all means, do them. But if you’re like me and you need quiet, then take a break from the online world for a while. It’ll still be there when you get back.
Just start writing
This has been my biggest problem lately. Once I’m in flow, the words comes quickly, but I can resist starting the actual process for days. That’s a problem, especially when I’m on a deadline. So what can you do? Write. Start writing. One word after the other. Make yourself do it. No matter what. I did this yesterday for my thesis and broke my two-week cycle of resistance. By the end of it, I had 1400 words. That’s 1400 words I didn’t have before and I feel better because of it.
In conclusion . . .
We’re going to hit bumps in the road when we’re writing. It’s unavoidable. But taking steps to make the transition easier can help. Work to the best of your abilities, but don’t be afraid to take breaks — to get out and enjoy the autumn sunshine or to read a good book. Sometimes those are the things we need to give us the push to get things done.