My Mind Is Cluttered

I’d really like to start writing again – fiction, that is. When I imagine myself as I really want to be, I am a writer. I have all of these story ideas, but I have trouble forming scenes from them. I’m guessing that’s just a matter of practice? I’ve read up on the subject, but I still have trouble. Maybe I need to do more exercises, but it feels like such a waste of time! On to my next problem:

I have an issue with taking the time to write. I have all kinds of time at my disposal, if only I could organize it properly to be productive. I’m constantly distracted. Every time I receive a text message, an email, or a FaceBook notification on my phone, I drop what I’m doing and respond. If you are my friend on FaceBook, you’ll see me popping on and off all day long, and somehow I can waste endless minutes doing meaningless tasks, responding to emails, and just trying to organize my thoughts so that I can progress through the day. So I have a hard time coming up with the block of time that I need to be able to think in peace.

Do I really need that huge chunk of time set aside in my day to write? I wonder if I could just write on the fly? Something like this blog post is not a problem. I only have a couple of minutes at my disposal, and I can hear Ian practicing his drums and the television from the living room, but none of that bothers me. I wonder if I could get to that point while writing fiction? I doubt it…

What do you all do?

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8 responses to “My Mind Is Cluttered

  1. I tend to write a lot, but some of my most productive work is done in small chunks (5-15 minutes). Recently, I responded to a writing prompt from the blog “Today’s Author” and created a piece of micro-fiction that took me maybe 15 minutes. The characters, however, came to life in my mind and I conceived a trilogy of short stories from them I’m now in the middle of writing out. I write 2 scenes a day (which takes between 1-2 hours) and expect to be finished with a working draft in about a month.

    So, big yields can come from small investments.

    • Hmmm…I guess I should try writing in short bursts before I complain too much about not finding huge chunks of time! Do you find yourself going through huge phases of writing like mad and not writing at all – depending on what’s going on in your life, mood, etc? I haven’t written anything substantial in probably a year, but before that I took a notebook everywhere I went just to jot down my ideas. I was also aiming for 1000 words/day, and usually hitting it! I don’t really know what made the difference or why I stopped writing.

      • I have certainly had bursts of creativity followed by lengthy periods of stagnation. My current burst (about 2 months now) follows almost two years where I barely put pen to paper (and didn’t touch a computer keyboard).

        I am, however, praying I can build on my current discipline as I am pursuing a full-time career in writing and part-time teaching. I’m hoping the added pressure to produce income with my writing doesn’t create paralyzing anxiety and instead motivates me to stay busy.

        Keep up the good work.

  2. I usually write in between the Facebook/e-mail/yadda-yadda distractions. Cracking down without checking my messages every few minutes is challenging, but if it’s gotta be done, hiding my accounts so I can’t see them and disallowing myself from looking for X amount of time or until I’ve written X words can help. Some people work better with big chunks of writing time, others work fine with an accumulation of a few minutes here and there. I don’t know that there’s a way to find out which you are without simply trying both.

    As far as writing exercises vs. just writing, the act of working on a story is exercising your writing muscles, too — and in fact targets the story-writing muscle better than unrelated exercises will. Unlike flash fiction or short pieces like that, writing a long project is an exercise of endurance, and requires different things from your brain. It can also be approached countless different ways. Again, the only way to find out which way works best for you is to give ’em a go.

    …And be prepared for what works for you *most* of the time to *not* work at random times. Be patient with yourself. Give whatever it is a fair try, then go ahead and let yourself try something else. Just another way for we artists to earn our creativity points. X)

    • I do need to try writing on the fly. I think I shall! I’ve often thought about trying a writing exercise, and twisting it around to use my settings, characters, or what-have-you from a work in progress. Have you ever tried anything like that?

      • Something like that, sometimes. I’ve gotten pretty attached to some of my novel characters, so they’ll often pop up in shorter works; or, vice versa, the shorter works may inspire something longer. And National Novel Writing Month prep season is a great time to experiment with the book I’m about to dive into via questions-for-characters games and the like. Your idea sounds like a good one — keeping your head in the world of the WIP *and* doing something quick and fresh at the same time. Go for it!

  3. When I had children in the home, I waited until their day was over (9:00 pm) and hubs was happily tucked in bed, and all else was finished, (supper dishes, clothes folding, etc.) and then I switched gears and wrote until about midnight. However, I am one who does not need to spend much time in the bed, or I risk a migraine . . . These days, I make sure the chickens are fed, and then the day is mine. I love the ability to concentrate this way. Still it is super-easy to squander it. Have to use self-control, I guess you’d call it. I now usually limit myself to a couple of hours on line in the morning, (after quiet time, breakfast, and laundry start-up) and then walk away from it until my lunch hour, when I use my laptop on the battery, seriously limiting the time I have. That forces me to remember what I am doing. I sort of let my correspondence pile up and then tend to it quickly as possible in batches, if that makes sense. I consider the things I have to do “my duty” and of first priority on my to-do list. Oh, sure, correspondence is fun, but replies are a duty, listed with their assigned times, like any other chore. I consider live people in my presence of higher priority than e-people I’ve never met. And act accordingly. Also, I set certain parameters (goals, you could say) for what MUST be done each day in household chores, before I can reward myself with writing time, which makes it seem more precious to me, sort of “paid for”. I do not write fiction, though. I think I would have trouble continuing a mood if I chopped it up. Who knows without trying it out, though? The continuity needed for non-fiction is of the shorter nature. I can usually get quite a chunk of it written in a short time. Editing non-fiction is easier, too, I think, as long as it is not second-person, present tense! 😉 May be just my opinion, though. 🙂

  4. LOL! I love how you have a reward system set up for yourself. I’ve been doing that with my Bible reading for years. (I used to never allow myself to read other books for pleasure until after reading my Bible for the day. – I don’t worry about it so much anymore though, because I know I’m going to read it anyway…) I guess I need to work out a reward system for myself too. I do spend an awful lot of time on FB, etc. I do stay up two hours later than Ian, but it seems like I spend that time writing non-fiction, maintaining groups on FB, and getting work done for our homeschool group or the local chamber. I have a lot going on…

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