I struggled to consistently write this week. I had set a goal to write one blog post per week and work up to 1000 words per day toward a story. But I found distractions keeping my focus elsewhere, which I thought was strange because I had made sure that distractions would not affect me as much as they used to, but I realized this week that distractions come in many forms.
The first ones are obvious: those having to do with technology, social media, and obligations. Those are the ones that I had guarded myself against.
For example, in order to write without distractions from my phone or tablet, I bought an Alphasmart Neo (see featured photo), which is kind of like a calculator but for typing. Then for reading, I, again, put my phone down and opted for the e-ink display of a Kindle Oasis.
Suddenly, I was blazing through my reading and even some of my writing! Excited, I thought that I had finally established habits that would keep me writing on a daily basis.
What I had not counted on, were the hidden distractions.
These are the distractions that happen within the writing world itself. The more I press into being an author, the more I realize what all I don’t know.
A good example is self-publishing and marketing myself as an author. I started a new Instagram at the beginning of the year to add to my platform. I thought, “I’ll post at least once per day, use good hashtags, and then people will naturally start following me.” Turns out, I don’t know much about Instagram.
What turned into a simple act of posting each day turned into hours and hours of learning all the features of Instagram, looking for other authors to follow, and scrolling–endless scrolling.
I started obsessing over whether or not people liked my posts and who chose to follow me. Without even realizing it, social media had snuck its way back in, keeping me from writing.
In addition to Instagram, there’s Wattpad. When I first started learning about it, I became hooked on it just like Instagram. I knew that in order to gain followers, I would need to read other writers’ works and leave feedback and comments. Tags were just not enough to get people to check me out. My first story only managed around 40 reads.
The other thing with Wattpad is learning how to design covers for your stories, which, at first, I found to be super cool. I was able to get an idea of what it would look like when I finally had my name on the byline of a novel.
But again, this became a small obsession. I downloaded apps to help with it and learned about photo editing and what photos I’m allowed to use etc. etc. etc.
Again, I wasn’t writing; I was thinking about how to make my writing look cool.
And yet another question to ask when writing my stories…Do I put them all on Wattpad, do I enter and try to win contests, or do I submit to literary magazines? I found several contests online that had reasonable deadlines, and I even started writing a story to send to one. But that would not be a story I shared to Wattpad. So what do I do?
I obsess over it. And the obsession keeps me from writing.
The final distraction is reading–reading about writing, reading about grammar, reading about character arcs, reading about plot, reading about description and conflict, reading fiction, reading nonfiction, reading Wattpad stories, reading reading reading reading.
“All writers are readers”, but at what point do they drop the book and pick up the pen?
The reason I feel compelled to read so much all boils down to one word: insecurity. I’m not confident enough in my abilities to produce good prose, so I think that I need a book to tell me how to do it.
I have to remind myself of a truth that I often try and ignore: getting better requires practice. This is true with all things. In fact, I’ve started to believe that if I’m not deliberate in my practice, then I’m unconsciously practicing things that are not good for me.
This carries so much weight in the therapy room. Good thoughts must be practiced, but how many times do we ruminate on negative thoughts? As much as I hate it, rumination is practicing harmful thoughts, just like not writing is, on some level, practicing procrastination. I may have more to say on this later.
What are your thoughts? Have you struggled with this in the past? Do you continue to struggle with it now? How have you overcome your own battle with distractions? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time! Happy writing!