Monday, August 6, 2012

Broken Habits

I removed my glasses and rubbed my eyes. Daily tasks called for my attention, and my mind re-focused.

Hours later, I sat in the parking lot at work. I went through my ritual of putting away my driving glasses and saw the case to my reading glasses gaping at me. How had I missed the clues before leaving home? My heart sank. No reading glasses equal an inability to perform my job. I called my boss and retraced my steps.

They were right where I left them: on top of my Bible. Somehow I'd broken with my habit of returning them to their rightful place.

Distraction is my enemy in the early morning hours. I'm accustomed to operating on auto-pilot for repetitive tasks, while my mind is occupied with important issues like world peace. If I miss a step in the regular sequence, I'm sunk. The whole routine can turn into a nightmare of forgotten glasses, inside out socks, and lunches sitting on the counter.

My writing life functions in much the same way. Turning on the lamp, firing up the computer, and gathering my papers are familiar procedures. Alas, a stray note or a telephone call can sidetrack me and knock out my best intentions.

While auto-pilot works great on optimum days, a little extra attention doesn't hurt.

Writers: How do you keep your writing time from slipping away unnoticed?

Readers: Do you have automatic routines? How do you keep them from spinning out of control?

Photo Credit:  lgowerf


Wendy Paine Miller said...

I really try to adhere to a set number of hours tapping away per day. Doesn't always happen, but the goal and the number are there to niggle me.
~ Wendy

Karen Lange said...

I let too many things distract me from my writing. Working on that one as we speak. :)

Happy Monday,

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh my goodness, I'm SO bad at this. Still working on habits and probably will be for a long time. *sigh* I hope you're doing well!

Loree Huebner said...

I set aside an hour to several hours a day. If I get side tracked...I don't feel guilty, I just begin again the next hour, afternoon, or day...

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Wendy - Being the sociable type, my biggest distraction is the Internet. I admire your discipline.

Hi Karen - Hmm, we both have the same weakness. We'll have to hold each other accountable. :)

Hi Jess - I'm comforted that I'm not the only one struggling in this area.

Hi Loree - I like your "pick-yourself-up-dust-yourself-off-and-start-all-over-again" attitude!

Susan :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. I'm pretty organised - but lost my computer glasses the other day .. the ones that stay put! I can read and work without them just - but would rather not, and the half glasses I also use are ok, but not brilliant .. they were in my dressing gown pocket - found round about lunchtime!

I am lucky my eyes are very good and I only use the lowest reading glass value ...

Now I have to set a routine going as my life has changed and I need to work my way forward. The brain is in gear .. and I have a little time - so moving forward is the thing .. cheers Hilary

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary -

Changes in our lives do upset our usual routines. It takes some adjustment and time before things settle down.


Rhonda Schrock said...

I have set times and a set place. This makes all the difference in the world. I literally leave my house to write. It's been wonderful.

Jean Fischer said...

I get distracted by email and the Internet. When I'm writing, I try not to wander there unless I have to.


Unknown said...

You would have to bring up this subject on a day when I wrote out my grocery list instead of completing the book proposal form I'm supposed to finish today! Thanks for the nudge, Susan! Getting back to my proposal now. God bless! :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rhonda - If I was in a public place, I'd end up people watching...for research purposes, of course. :)

Hi Jean - I'm in the same boat.

Hi Maria - LOL! I'm glad I'm a good influence.


Jan Cline said...

I will admit...I struggle with distractions and sticking to routine. I think I'm learning though to evaluate my to-do lists and eliminate unnecessary items. It is one of the most difficult things to do - for me anyway.
Nice to know I'm not alone!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jan -

You're definitely not alone! My to-do lists are often too ambitious.

Susan :)

DenaNetherton said...

I can have several things neatly stacked on the kitchen counter, ready for me to put in the car. Then one distraction and i forget the whole stack! Ach. I'm fortunate that I have a separate office for my writing. But if I don't close the door, sounds from the house distract me. Dena, close the door!

Susan said...

Hi Susan...

I write as a freelancer for a weekly newspaper so I work on deadlines. If I didn't discipline myself and just write, I wouldn't make the deadline. And that is "curtains" on a newspaper. So, I just DO it.

Thanks for your visits to my blog. Love it when you stop by. Susan

Sarah Forgrave said...

I have so few hours to devote to writing (thanks to young children at home), that whenever a chunk of time presents itself, I have to take advantage. Otherwise, I may not be guaranteed another opportunity for a while.

Thankfully with preschool starting soon, I'll have a few hours to focus on writing again. :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Dena - A neat little trick: I put everything I'm taking with me in front of the door. I can't get out without seeing the stuff! Of course, it only works if I remember to do it.

I also need quiet when I write.

Hi Susan - Deadlines end procrastination for me as well. I'm obsessive about beating them.

Hi Sarah - I admire all the moms out there, who find time to write. You're all amazing.

Susan :)

JD said...

Hi, Susan:

I write at night, when my kids are asleep and won't sneak into our home office to sit on my lap as I write or show me their latest artwork. Theirs is a sweet distraction, but a distraction nonetheless! Working late at night works for me and let's me focus on my words uninterrupted.

Glad you found your glasses. I wouldn't be able to see the words I'm typing right now without my contacts in or glasses on!


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Janette -

The sweet distractions are the hardest to resist, aren't they? :)

Early morning is my ideal writing time. I'm most alert and productive after a good night's rest.

Susan :)