Besides procrastination, the biggest hurdle in my writing life is distraction. I am a homeschooling mama who also runs a piano studio out of my home and teaches art classes. So between all that, my two kids, my husband, and a yowling Siamese, things tend to get a bit hectic in my home.
It would be lovely if I had a nice little writing studio, with a locked door and soundproof walls; but alas, my writing desk is in the middle of the melee. This is primarily why I choose to write at night, after the noise had settled. But now that homeschool is back in session and I must arise before the crack of lunch, burning the midnight oil is not feasible right now.
Since I am determined to have a long-term career as an author, I am training myself to write for several hours a day. Therefore, in the past few weeks I have been sorting out how I can get my writing time in, between homeschool sessions and piano lessons, during the day.
Since I am not naturally an organized person, I have been working hard to find a schedule that works for all of us, and stick to it. My children are getting older and are not so dependent on me to direct them in their schoolwork anymore. So now instead of dragging out my teaching time all day, I have limited it to one hour, per child, and the rest is independent work. Therefore I have three to four hours I did not have before, in which I can sit down and write. But still, distractions continued to abound; until I came up with a brilliant solution.
Next to Scrivener, my best writing tool is now a big, long-burning yummy-smelling candle (right now it’s mocha and marshmallow is up next). It is my signal to them that I am working and cannot be distracted. My family knows that when my writing candle is lit I am unavailable for questions or demands and they must wait until the candle is extinguished to inundate me. I love it.
When a child (or a husband) comes to me I just point to the candle—which tells them “unless you are bleeding, or your hair is on fire, I am busy”. I don’t even have to talk so I can stay in my flow state and keeping writing. The only one it doesn’t work for is the yowling cat, but I guess she has an excuse… My kids have even taken to lighting their own candles when they are writing to signal when they need quiet as well.
Do you have a tool that helps you to focus on your job as a writer and signals to others that you are unavailable? A closed door? Certain music playing? A candle? What other ways can you limit distractions during your precious writing time?