Tomorrow is going to be a hardcore writing day (I mean, I will be hardcore about writing, not that the writing itself will be hardcore). This means you might see me online a bit more than usual, since a lot of “writing days” are also “tweeting days” and “blogging days” and “LOLcat days.”
Which, as I’m sure you know, is not how one is supposed to write. Distractions are the devil.
Distractions can also keep you sane. I consider them like quick stretches in the middle of a writing marathon, the way a jogger will stretch their calves while waiting for a light to change. It’s not like I’m spending half an hour agonizing over every tweet; they’re just quick bursts of thought. And when I’m hard at work, blogging is a good break, a different kind of writing requiring a different kind of brainpower. A good little stretch.
My biggest distraction, though, is television. I mean that in a good way, not in an “I don’t have time to write because I watch 40 hours of TV a week” way. If I were to guess, I’d say the TV is on 90% of the time I’m writing. Yeah. A lot. Not how you’re supposed to do it.
I watch TV the way some people listen to music while they write. It’s basically visual background noise. To hear me talk, it sounds like I spend my entire life watching reality TV and cartoons. What isn’t generally obvious in conversation is that I also wrote a chapter during that episode of Jersey Shore.
The key is that I’m pretty picky about what is on when I’m writing. The main rule: it’s either something I’ve seen many times before or something with no discernible plot. Some things that work especially well for me:
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (I basically have this memorized)
- Star Wars (see above)
- The Avengers, Steed and Peel-style
- Batman: The Animated Series
- Justice League/Justice League Unlimited
- Star Trek (original series)
- Project Runway, especially the seasons I’ve seen a half dozen times
- Real Housewives of Wherever the Hell
Things that do not work:
- subtitles (which unfortunately rules out all Kurosawa and Miyazaki)
- movies/TV shows I have not seen
- movies/TV shows that are plot heavy (Babylon 5)
Of course, the question is: Could I be getting more work done if I were to just sit at my desk with the internet and TV off? The answer, honestly, is I don’t think so. I don’t think the distractions are detrimental. I don’t think I could write 6000 words in a weekend if I weren’t keeping myself sane with a few little sidesteps, and that’s my goal in the next two days.
When I’m in the zone it all just blurs out. I’ll look up and Snooki is in the middle of another hair-pulling fight and I have no idea why, or Batman has progressed 3 episodes and is trying to punch himself. I don’t need to know anything going on around the moment so I watch for a bit (a few seconds to a few minutes), loosen my brain up, and then I write more.
I’m not suggesting everyone who writes turn up the TV and bounce around the internet. It very obviously does not work for a lot of people. It doesn’t always work for me. But it’s my standard modus operandi, and it is how I will be spending a fair amount of the next 48 hours.
I love hearing about other writers and their techniques—so what about you? Do you need uninterrupted silence, or are you more like me?