“When writing a novel, that’s pretty much entirely what life turns into: House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.”

-Neil Gaiman

It’s so true. When working on a novel, I have to be completely immersed in that world, almost all the time. When I’m not writing the novel, I’m thinking about the novel. While I’m cooking, driving, about to go to sleep.

I’ve had to learn to write with many distractions. I don’t prefer it. I wasn’t the type of student who was able to do her homework with the TV and music blaring at the same time. I need silence to hear my thoughts and form my ideas.

Silence doesn’t happen very often where I live. Either my diva Chihuahua is barking at every falling leaf outside, or the neighbor’s parrot is laughing and screaming, “F*ck you!” in Spanish.

When my son has his friends over to play video games in his room, I use that time to write. With my son occupied, I figure he’ll be out of my hair for a time. But pre-teen boys tend to be boys with foul mouths, and soon I hear words coming out of their little mouths, like Bitch and Faggot, and common sense tells me I should go and reprimand them (Never discipline from your chair, the kid-rearing books say. Always get your ass up, go over to the child and look them in the eye.), but if I’m in the middle of a thought, all they get is a “HEY!” yelled from my seat.

It will always be something. If you allow life to taunt you with the 1001 distractions it has to offer daily, you will never get that novel or blog post or article written, and then really, what is your purpose in life? When you allow procrastination to rear its ugly head (as I am prone to do), what do you wind up with? Dishes washed and laundry done, perhaps…but no words on the page.

And that can make a writer very, very cranky. If you’re one of those writers who waits for everything to be perfect before you can sit down to write, expect to fail. Waiting for inspiration to strike? Expect to fail. As soon as the kids are grown, you’ll write? You’ll only be that much closer to death.

To quote one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, “To be a writer is a decision and a habit.”

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this concept. I wrote my second novel while working full-time as an office manager. When business was slow, I wrote. It was either that or surf porn sites. I came in to an office five days a week, sat in front of a computer at the same time each day, and wrote.

Trying to write my third novel from home bites. I almost wish I had an office to go to these days, with nothing but four blank walls and a laptop. The self-discipline it takes for me to sit my butt down in a chair when, more often than not, I haven’t the faintest idea where my WIP is heading is pure torture. If I don’t make myself do it, I’m a witch for the rest of the day. If I manage to shoot off a page or two, I’m like a girl in love: I can step in dog shit and still go skipping down the street with a smile on my face.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Angeline
    Apr 04, 2012 @ 14:23:56

    I broke my right hand wrist a month ago in a stupid accident. So no writing for me…but to be honest I think the time when I just needed to accept I cant´t write has been good for me – and the Book. Now I have totally revised itin my head, and when the bloody plaster is taken off I will rewrite some things that has been major issues. Maybe they are finally solved…:)


    • Tiffany N. York
      Apr 04, 2012 @ 16:48:19

      Yeesh, so sorry to hear about your broken wrist. I mean, yay for the writing insights — it’s always good to take a step back from your WIP, especially when there are issues you need to work out (Is it what you wrote for NaNo?). But boo for having it be a hassle to do even the simplest of things.


      • Angeline
        Apr 08, 2012 @ 10:44:29

        (It is what I wrote for NaNo! Wow, that you remembered!) As for the broken wrist it has been healing pretty well, so I´m a lucky old girl. Was told by the handsome doctor in the A&E that middle-aged ladies who broke their wrists usually end up on the operation-table. So happy I didnt:) Really uhappy my writer´s retreat in Oxford had to be cancelled, but thinking of Cornwall in September instead. What about it Tiffany, wanna come?

      • Tiffany N. York
        Apr 09, 2012 @ 18:11:44

        Oh, would I love to…Until the boy can watch himself, my “trips” are to his school and the grocery store!

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