One of our foxes asked, “What stops you dead in your tracks when writing?”
For me, it’s usually one of these six things:
- Family needs: Of course, this is the non-negotiable interruption. When my mom needs to get to the doctor, or the grandkids are sick need to come home from school, these situations must come first. I find it difficult to even think about my works-in-progress when involved with my family, so I’ve stopped trying.
- Stuff that needs to get done: It’s no secret that I lead a busy life. I have several interests and hobbies to which I devote time and effort, belong to lots of different groups, and have a growing family. And there are two things I try to avoid if at all possible: being late, and being unprepared. So I spend a good part of each day getting things ready for wherever I’m going the following day. My creative interests – sewing, music-making, crafting, and writing – tend to get put on the back burner, and sometimes that bothers me. I suppose I’ve had it pounded into my mind that I should take care of needs before wants. It’s hard for me to think about putting words on the screen (what I want to do) when I have things like papers to grade, bills to pay, gifts to wrap, and dishes to wash and put away (what I need to do).
- Lack of direction: There are writing-related issues that stop me from writing, even after I’ve begun. Sometimes, I’ll have a wonderful idea for a story, but I don’t have details worked out in my mind how the characters will get from Point A to Point B. I’ll sit back and ask myself, “Where do I go from here? What would the characters say to each other? How can I get these two totally different characters to meet and get to know each other?” Even when I plot my books out, I struggle with transitions.
- Interruptions: Texts, phone calls, etc. I do enjoy being “connected” with my family. Unfortunately, my family hasn’t quite learned to figure out when I’m writing, and they often reach out while I’m trying to get something done. During the hour I set aside to write this post, I received phone calls from each of my daughters to confirm plans for the next day, and I remembered I was supposed to bring a dish to pass for tomorrow’s family meal. (See #2)
- Time commitments: I love to write, but I will admit that when people ask me what I do, my first response is that I’m a teacher or a musician. Writing, while it takes up a lot of my time, is third. During the school year, I spend a lot of time grading papers and rehearsing for concerts. So there have been times when I’ve had to stop writing an emotional scene and leave the house to play a concert or participate in whatever is on my calendar.
- Distractions: I’ve always been a curious person. I’ve often thought I might be mildly ADHD, though I’ve never been properly diagnosed. Anyway, the internet is a dangerous place for me to be when I have a deadline. I’ve had to delete several games from my phone, projects that need to be finished. I also need to remind myself often about what I’m supposed to be doing and to stick to it!
I guess it’s a good thing that I’ve been able to complete several projects for publication. I think I just don’t have it in me to stay focused on a full-length novel (my historical novel The Samurai’s Garden took eight years to write!), so most of the romances I write fall in the novella category.
What keeps you from completing your projects?