Keep Your Eye on the Road …

Several years ago in Costa Rica, I rented a car. We were also encouraged to rent a GPS. At one point I was so distracted by the little map on the screen that I plowed through the intersection. Fortunately the other driver saw that I didn’t know what I was doing and yielded just in time.

Hi, Bob Sands here for day three of Street Smart Strategies for The Writer’s Life.

Have you ever been distracted when you are driving? You know it can have serious consequences. Distractions can also spell trouble on the road to The Writer’s Life.

When you are a freelance writer, there are many things that happen along the way that could be labeled as a distraction. But there is one that has the potential to derail your writing if you don’t prepare for it. What is it? Writer’s block.

One online dictionary defines writer’s block as, “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.” That’s a great definition because it proves that writer’s block is psychological-it is an inhibition rather than an inability.

Writer's block manifests itself in different ways to different people. You might not think you're a “good enough” writer and lose confidence. You might be struggling to come up with a “Big Idea” for your article, sales letter, or whatever copy you're working on. However it happens, it can be both frightening and maddening.

So what can you do when writer’s block becomes a distraction?

Sometimes, you may just need a break. Take a walk, go to the gym, or put it away for 24 hours, if possible.

Change where you’re writing. Sometimes I will move from my office to my patio. Other times I will go to a local coffee shop (along with my noise cancelling headphones!) and try writing there.

Sometimes, writing through writer’s block is the best answer. I will set a timer and free write whatever comes to mind for either 10 or 20 minutes. While doing this, I do not spell check or correct anything. I just write. This helps to bypass the internal critic and gets the creative juices flowing.

Distractions are all around us. We have to be vigilant and watch for any sign that they are beginning to impact our writer’s life.

Join me tomorrow as we talk about where to find help when you really need it.

What do you find most distracting? Won’t you please share it in the comment sections here.

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Published: June 26, 2013

6 Responses to “Keep Your Eye on the Road...”

  1. What do I find most distracting? My mom (bless her!) yelling, "Buy a vowel, dummy!" is second only to my darling lab's demanding bladder :) (Mom's chihuahua barking at the air every twelve seconds is up there, too...) I think I'm in the market for some noise-cancelling headphones, Bob ;)

    Chase Canyon

  2. My #1 biggest distraction(s)? My friendly felines. My study has no door on it, so my cats Livek, Firefly and GrayGirl come in, pop up onto the desk and lie down on my papers, my keyboard, my hands, my shoulders... I really need to replace the door!

    Ellen M

  3. My dogs barking are one of my main distractions,they are excellent guard dogs,but at times they can drive me nuts...I really need to purchase some soundproof headphones.


  4. My biggest distraction? Too many ideas! When I have a task, I become a ferocious idea hamster, turning that little wheel in my head at high speed.

    Then I become overwhelmed with all the ideas and can't make a decision on which to pursue.

    Of course, I know this is merely a diversionary tactic, but it's still hard to control.

    Still, I'm working on it.

    Guest (Tony Wanless)

  5. distractions ? interruptions? A block is more coming to a tree across the road, or a dead-end, or a cliff, or a deep hole I can't go around, or a river so deep & wide... I get out the car & go for a swim... just float along with the water's powerful flow... thinking of times doing this in the American River (Sacramento).
    Or do more research or review. Or call a friend. Or take a nap. Or play with the dog. Walk in the mountains. Or Fly Down To Rio, Using The Music For Flight. Or Fall In Love!!


  6. I get side-tracked too, by not sticking to my work schedule.
    My distractionitis has many symptoms - too much time spent on research to find ALL the information, deciding on the 'perfect' headline or angle, what to include/leave out (don't you know it's all Vital??), and wrapping it all up.
    Checking it over and over, sometimes feeling that what I've written 'isn't good enough.' And my confidence wanes.
    Then, there's the phone, family, household chores...see? Multi-tasking is distracting!

    BJ Jensen

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