One of the worst things that authors have to deal with in my opinion is distractions. I remember the days when I worked in the hospitals. I would arrive at work, mute my phone, put on my scrubs, and hit the floor running. During the course of the day patient needs were my primary concern. There were doctor’s orders to follow, procedures to adhere to, documentation to complete, and families to comfort or herd as the need be! I was a labor and delivery nurse for most of my thirty nursing years. I remember coming on shift one morning to care for a patient who was deep in the throes of labor at 6cm dilation. Her husband, uncle, and 4 other men were in her room having a pizza party! No one was assisting her with the contractions. After I picked up my jaw off the floor, I “herded” them all out of the room. Immediately! Such is the life of a nurse. I did not allow outside influences to interfere with my work. It was important to me that my patients had the best care I could give. My family knew that they were not to call unless it was an emergency. I was dedicated and focused. So, what has happened? In a word- life. I go to bed at night thinking I will have a productive day tomorrow, except tomorrow doesn’t come. I start off pretty good- coffee, prayer, exercise, and shower. Then the day falls apart. I start looking at emails trying to discard all the ones that will be a waste of time. Then something catches my eye, so I start reading it forgetting what I started out to do in the first place. (I can really relate to the dog in training who thinks “Oh look, a cat!”, then tears off chasing it.) Then my phone rings. Shift gears again. Someone needs me to do something for them. I think “It will be easier to do this then get back to my emails”. An hour goes by, then it’s lunch time already. Another hour goes by. “Honey, can you help me with this”, my husband calls? Sure. The phone rings again. I realize I have errands to do, so off I go. Then it’s time to get ready for my grand-daughter’s softball game and I haven’t even cooked anything for dinner. I begin to wonder how I had time to get everything done when I “worked full-time”! Distraction is like a bratty child that needs to be disciplined. Just like the bratty child, its voice needs to be corralled so that it does not ruin a whole day- a day that I cannot afford to lose. When I had to be at work, I had a set time to be there. I need a set time to officially start my writing day. As an author, I often use the excuse that I just don’t have anything to share today. The creative juices just aren’t flowing, but that’s just an excuse. There were days I didn’t feel like dealing with laboring patients and impatient doctors, but I did it anyway. My personality loves lists and schedules. I had them in the hospital setting. I still need them sitting at my computer. I feel the need for peace and quiet to sit, mediate, and write. I rarely get that. In the hospital setting, there was never any peace and quiet. I learned to block out the non-essential sounds so I could focus on the important ones. I never understood the old movies where everyone was “shushed” by a stern nurse dressed in white. If I had to wear white, it would be dirty the first day, and if I tried to “shush” someone, well, we won’t go there! I still have the ability to block out non-essential noise so I can concentrate. So what’s the answer? For me, I need to be a professional nurse writer! Here’s one of my favorite things- a list to live by:
- Start the day with prayer. God knows stuff that we need to know and He can help!
- Have set days to work and a set time to start and stop work.
- Schedule “other things” on days off.
- Inform friends and family that we are working and not to disturb us unless it is really important (remember the bratty child).
- Don’t “bring work home”. When it is family time, spend it with the family.
- Make a schedule and stick to it. Even if we don’t have a publishing deadline, make one anyway.
- Create a long-term business plan. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.
- Do one thing each day to market books and product.
- Don’t chasten ourselves too much if we don’t get everything done. Adjust the schedule accordingly.
- Prioritize! Don’t sacrifice the best for something that is merely good.
- Have fun! If work becomes too stressful and difficult, we won’t want to work anymore!
I’m sure there are other things we can add, but this is a place to start, so let’s get started and give distraction a boot in the butt!