This happens to me quite frequently (it doesn’t help that my desk is in the corner of my kitchen/dining room). I will sit down to write and suddenly the home phone will ring (also on my desk), or my mobile phone pings with a text, my cat decides he wants to play, one of my family sits down for a chat with me, or the grittiness of the floor reminds me I need to do some housework as we have visitors coming over on the weekend. A couple of hours later, I still haven’t started in on any writing project…
Oh the irony. In the original mythology, the sirens were the daughters of Muses, either Terpsichore – the Muse of Dancing or Melpomene – the Muse of both Singing and Tragedy. I’m putting my vote in for Melpomene being their mum, as anything that keeps me away from my writing is something of a tragedy. (Okay, I’m being a drama queen.) But the Sirens of Distraction are a real problem for writers, particularly if you are like me and you don’t have a ‘room of your own’.
My family is moving soon, and I hope to partially solve my problem by having a more private workspace. However, this isn’t a solution that everyone can afford. So, here are some of the strategies I have been using to slay the sirens of distraction.
You can be listening to music … or not. I find music helpful to set the atmosphere of a scene, but half the time the earphones are worn simply to signal that I am busy. They act as a barrier between me and the household.
2/ Setting a timetable
Make it perfectly clear to one and all that this is your writing time. Have a set time of the day to write … the housework can wait until later. Better yet, get your family to help you with the cleaning and have a ‘cleaning hour’ where everyone gets together to share tasks.
3/ Set priorities
Sometimes, the housework just has to get done (I like clean underwear, particularly in summer). Most of the time, though, housework can wait. It isn’t going anywhere. Write for a couple of hours and the dust won’t have gone away. Dust the house when your imagination is on fire, and you might lose that flash of inspiration forever. And if friends pop by, they came to see you and not the house.
I hope this helps someone. I am currently looking for a new home and will be moving soon. This is when the sirens of distraction become the levitation of life, and posts may become few and far between for a couple of weeks.