Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Writer's ADD

I’ve had some difficulty focusing these past couple months.  I blame it on pregnant brain. But it could just be that I’m not sleeping for crap.  Whatever the cause, my WIP is suffering.

Things have gotten worse as my nesting instinct has kicked in this past couple weeks.  I sit down in front of those pages and I immediately want to go organize something.  I’ve rearranged my cabinets.  I’ve cleaned out two closets, donated three or four bags of clothes to Goodwill.  I’ve packed my “go to the hospital” bag three times, written an extensive note about my son’s daily habits (for his caretakers when my husband and I aren’t with him), and I’m grocery shopping like a maniac to make sure the house is constantly supplied with food for the onslaught of visitors I’m sure we’ll receive after the little guy is born.

Needless to say, there’s little room in all this manic activity for thoughts about my hero and heroine’s relationship struggles.

It’s Writer’s ADD.

Let’s be honest, though.  The majority of us don’t have the resources to just sit around all day, thinking about our stories and writing.  We generally start on this journey with jobs, children at home, or both.  Add the plethora of responsibilities that go along with LIVING (housework, financial issues, elderly relatives’ care, etc) and writing can easily move to the bottom of our priority list, whether due to lack of time or lack of focus.

Right now I’m chalking my ADD up to something that will fix itself when I manage to remove the person growing in my uterus.  But when this “illness” strikes on a regular day/week/month, I can usually battle it by forcing myself to stare at my MS.  Most of the time, if I’m stuck or distracted, if I just carve the time out of my day (like I should for working out) I can get myself to write something.  Maybe it’s junk, maybe I’ll delete it later.  But it’s something.  And sometimes it’ll jar something better loose.

How do you fight off Writer’s ADD?  What are your biggest distractions and how do you combat them?  Anyone else have any suggestions for remembering stuff?  Seems I write myself notes and then forget those.  Not helpful.


2nd Chance said...

You can fight it off?

Biggest distractions? This blog. Newbie students the last few months. Preparing to pitch...preparing to submit...wondering if I need to pitch again at RWA...who I should pitch to...

And this revision class I signed up will that work... Looking at flights to Orlando...

Is Bonnie OK out in the van? Is it too hot for her? Maybe I should get her home...


The only way I know to combat this at all is to keep the doc/MS open on the computer and sneak over to it now and then. Sometimes, I write notes reg. plot ideas in tablets... Or stay up late and work on things.

Quantum said...

Marnee, This all sounds very familiar to me from when my son was born.

It drove me up the wall but I tried to take control and do everything, encouraging Mrs Q to relax and enjoy the experience.

I think I drove her up the wall as well!

There are lots of handy computer programs for jotting down thoughts and snippets for future reference. I use Microsoft OneNote, which came free with WORD 2007.

The main thing for now is to concentrate on 'the wee bairn'. Everything else is a side show for the present!

I wish you well.

Thanks everyone for the lovely comments about my poetry yesterday. You really shouldn't encourage me though! :lol:

Di R said...


Is there anything better and worse than 'baby brain'. I used to make a list of the lists I had made-it didn't help. LOL.

This morning I had planned on working on my WIP, instead I'm making plans for my neighbor to take my duaghter to school, so I can take my son to school and get something done about the bully on the bus.
However, I did slap some post-it notes of ideas into the WIP. (I LOVE my post-its!.

Q~lovely poem. Mrs. Q is very lucky.

Terri-I'd love to meet for dinner. Thanks!


Hellie said...

I love how 2nd blamed THE BLOG. Sorry we're such a distraction.

Current distractions: daytime job, gym, Dancing With The Stars (why did I get sucked into this program?), aging parents and stress associated with this, Harry Potter, my navel, whatever book I'm currently reading that's better than my WIP, the library, COOKING (this takes up a lot of time, I wish I didn't like eating or cooking so much), Deerhunter

Mostly I try to shut off the TV, no matter what (sorry Castle), by 9 pm, crawl in bed with my computer, and write for an hour. It's not much, but better than allowing myself to watch TV the WHOLE night.

Marnee Jo said...

Chance - I do most of my work on the MS at night too. Way less distractions when everyone else is sleeping.

I don't think it's possible to pitch too much. Get that story idea out there! :)

Q - My husband has taken the opposite approach. He's allowed me just to go about my business and when I lose my train of thought or lose something or forget something else, he just tries to ignore it. I don't know if having him do everything for me would be better or worse.

I do have One-Note. I used it for my first MS, but I haven't since then. I found my brain is so abstract random, having so many options to organize left me decidedly unorganized.

Di - I love post-its too! Is this virtual post-its or for real post-its? Sometimes I wonder if things would be easier if I wrote them out long hand. I try to keep everything in the computer for clutter's sake. But I've always loved post-its. I saw somewhere they had a virtual post-it program. That'd be super helpful for me.

Marnee Jo said...

Hells - The "turn off the TV" trick is my method too. Though I end up just not watching anything. I only get about an hour at night after kiddo goes to bed.

I have been finding a few minutes here and there to watch Glee though. I'm still a bit behind, but maybe I'll catch up before I hear exactly what happens. :)

Donna said...

Marn, I wish you lived next door, so you could come organize MY nest. :) Honestly, I don't think you should give yourself a hard time for not being able to write when you've got so many other things to concentrate on!

I've never had baby brain, but at the winding-down stage of the reproductive years (aka "mental pause"), it makes me crazy that my brain seems to have so little ability to retain information!

Q, I've been intrigued with OneNote, but it didn't come with my version of Office 2007. I think I would like to keep everything in one place, but wonder if it has too many capabilities. I would love to hear more about it.

The past year I've gotten to stay home and write, the first time I've ever done that -- I will confess that on most days *whispers* I probably get less writing done than when I had a job! LOL

Donna said...

I took so long to write my comment, that I managed to miss some more in there!

Hellie, you DO have a lot of things to contend with. I generally watch TV on my computer, because lots of shows are on the next day (that's when I watch Castle, and Lost). Or Hulu has things too (maybe Glee?) -- that way you can watch it when YOU want, not when the networks want.

Marn, you just said what I was wondering about OneNote. LOL Wonder if there's a trial version I could try. Mmm. Research distraction ahead!

Marnee Jo said...

Donna - if this is a preface for mental pause, I'm going to have to write down the names of my children. I can't remember crap.

And in the mood I'm in, I'd be happy to organize anything. Seriously, it's some manic energy. Ugh.

One Note has some cool features, I admit, but I couldn't quite figure out the best way to use them all to fit my brain patterns. I ended up forgetting where I put stuff and rewriting ideas I'd had previously. I think it'd be good for a research paper or something but when you're trying to organize a 300 page story, it's a little too open-ended, I think.

Bosun said...

Right now, work is my major distraction from this blog. But I'm following along and I'll get back to play when I can.

Marnee Jo said...

Awh... sorry Bo'sun... I hope things calm down at work soon.

Bosun said...

Nope, just getting going. The major change hasn't even begun. LOL! Workload tripling. Yay for me.


Marnee Jo said...

Ugh, workload tripling? That's awful....

Bosun said...

Taking a break for lunch. Did my "triple workload" kill the blog? LOL! Sorry about that.

My distractions right now are things that take me away from the writing time. Volleyball games, hamster tumors and then what results from them, paying bills that can't wait, booking hotel and airfare for Nationals. That one was very distracted. :) But all done!

This week it's been one distraction after another which has put me behind again. I'll have to crank out a ton of pages from here on out to have this done at the end of the month.

Oddly enough, the cleaning does not distract me unless it's really bad. And for now I have kiddo to put to work. She's mostly still cooperative. Moreso than she will be in another couple years, I'm sure.

Let the Baby Brain have its way, Marn. Think of it as loading extra smarts into the boy. Nothing wrong with that. I already can't remember shit and I haven't even hit mental pause yet. This is not a good sign.

2nd Chance said...

Distractions don't have to be seen as negative things, Hel! Yup, the blog is a delightful distraction. It is also an inspiration, a creative exercise run amock, an entire cheerleading squad, and so much more!

Now, this post it program... Maybe I could use it instead of real post its for the revision class? I might be able to get behind that. Must set the DH into researching it...;)

Bosun said...

I love my real life post its and you will have to pry them from my cold, lifeless fingers. LOL!

Marnee Jo said...

Ter - such a traditionalist... LOL!!

Marnee Jo said...

Bo'sun - after you said you were going to do triple the work, I started feeling bad about sitting on the couch eating chocolate cookies. LOL!! So I vacuumed.

Sorry about the hectic week. I'm sure you're going to get back on track with your pages by end of weekend though.

Chance - If you find the post-it program again, please share. I swear I knew the name at one point but it eludes me now. (See how bad I am?)

Bosun said...

Marn - You will soon be chasing around two little pirates and still dealing with one grown one who will I'm sure act like a little pirate on occasion. By no means should you feel bad.

If anything, we should all feel like slackers. LOL!

That's me. Hellie is the purist and I'm the traditionalist. LOL!

2nd Chance said...

OK, Sin is the anarchist.

What's that make me? Anacronist? Is there such a word? If not, I am making it up. ;)

We need a many ists can we get out of this?

Quantum said...

Donna said: Q, I’ve been intrigued with OneNote, but it didn’t come with my version of Office 2007. I think I would like to keep everything in one place, but wonder if it has too many capabilities. I would love to hear more about it.

I use it mainly for research.

I create notebooks with sub-notebooks within them corresponding to different topics. There is also a handy drawing tool included for sketching diagrams and one can import stuff from the web.

As Marnee says, I don't think it is particularly aimed at authors, but it could be configured to look like some of the specialist writing programs.

I have heard 'WriteWay' recommended by one or two authors and it is designed specifically to assist with plot development, character development, scene development, conflict, dialogue etc.

One could have sub-notebooks or notebooks for each of the WriteWay topics within OneNote, but you might prefer to be spoon-fed.

I think there is another program called 'Writer's Cafe' which might be worth a look.

As always you need to give them a try to find what suits you best. :D

Bosun said...

I'd think Hal and Marn would share the pragmatist titles. Donna would be the cautious optimist.

Q is the physicist (sp?) and that leaves you. Hmmmm

The opportunist?

2nd Chance said...

Anacronist. I creatively muck with the correct placement of things, ideas, etc.

Come on! I can make up ists!

Quantum said...

So its pirates playtime!

Perhaps Marnee could loan us a baby bouncer to hang from the Crows Nest.

We could find out who's been eating chocolate by the height of the bouncer above the deck.

An anachronists version of ducking witches?

Heck, I'm changing into an anarchist! :lol:

2nd Chance said...

I'm thinking more along the lines of the Society for Creative Anachronisms... I'm probably mucking up the spelling... I'm an anachronist? ;)

Thanks for the info on the writing things, Q. I have a sample version of WriteWay but I know someone who lost everything she'd written when the program crashed and wouldn't let her export her MS to word. Scary idea!

I'll look into the post-it program. I already know this revision class wants a post-it committment. Great for those who love the suckers. I'd rather fill up numerous notembooks, LOL!

Scapegoat said...

My main distration seems to be the hubby. He's very supportive of my writing, but seems to always tempt me into watching a movie with him. Since we've both been workign like mad, I had saying no to any time together.

So, lately I've tried to solve it by writing on my netbook WHILE watching the movie.

I'm a huge fan of physical post-its. Love them and have tons of them with snippets of ideas/plot points everywhere.

I also keep a moleskin small notebook in my bag with a pen to write down anything that comes to me. It's so small it will fit in any bag.

This is the one I use, but they make smaller ones and/or ones with lined paper.

2nd Chance said...

Scape - I have a ton of those! From lined to unlined to graph paper. Love those little notebooks. I'd rather use them than the post-its things...

Donna said...

Q, thanks for the info on OneNote, as well as the other programs. When I'm researching things for my books, I have a tendency to collect different websites and snippets of info -- it seemed like it might work to have all the different media in one spot. I'm definitely going to look at the ones you suggested.

And I'm a cautious optimist? I kinda like that. Don't know if it's TRUE though! LOL

I just got back from some errands -- I got a kick out of some conversations in Starbies. One couple was obviously on a "meet and greet", and another couple weren't together, but knew each other from work, and were bitching about their respective spouses. Great fun!

2nd Chance said...

I've overheard some interesting snippets at Starbucks. Mostly from the horse set, who like to talk loudly about all the shows they are attending, how the daughter is doing in jumping competition and where they are going for vacation.


Though it is fun to listen to a pair of them trying to outdo each other.

Marnee Jo said...

You're probably right, Ter, about which -ist I am. Pragmatic pretty much covers it. I only hold with what works. It ain't working, out the window you go....

Scape - I end up writing notes on the backs of receipts and napkins... I should get a notebook. I'd probably forget it though.... LOL!!

Chance - the horse set? hahaha!!!