Sunday, February 22, 2009

Environmental Writers Block

How many writers are so OCD, they can't possibly be creative unless everything is in place? Quiet, music playing, right frame of mind, etc.

Show of hands please?

Yeah, I raised mine. I have been giving writing, and the reasons that we don't, much thought of late. I have decided that, for me at least, there are two types of writers block. The conventional type that you often hear writers talk about, you see it in movies, you think about it when someone mentions dreaded writers block. NO IDEAS. Then there is what I have deemed environmental writers block. For whatever reason, your surroundings are just not conducive to the creative process. I'll break it down:

Conventional Writers Block-
*The voices went away
*The creative juices aren't flowing
*You can't seem to form a coherent thought
*No plot worth writing comes to mind
*Burning out due to revisions (AKA I want to hurl my PC out the window)

Environmental Writers Block-
*Kids always needing this, that or the other
*Phone ringing
*Laundry piled up
*House a mess
*Shopping needs to be done
*Dinner to be made
*Bills to be paid
*Shows to watch on the DVR
*American Idol is on (or insert your own reality weakness here)
*Any other thing that goes on in your daily life (illness, PC crash, school functions, etc.)

As you can see, the list for environmental writers block has plenty of room for you to add your own household detractors. I do know it's possible to want to write so badly, that you can block out anything. I have actually written a short story, that was published, at the playground inside Burger King amid the interruptions of my kids, and the squealing of the other rugrats there. It can be done.

I guess what I am trying to say here, more for myself than anyone, is where there is a will, there is a way. Period. Sometimes you have to take a step back, and only you can decide when that time comes, but when you really want to write, I am going to list things that I have found effective for me.

*Headphones (with or without music)
*Writing at night when everyone is in bed
*Wake up and write before anyone else is up
*Tell others when you are writing to only interrupt if the house is burning down
*Hyper-focus (if you are ADD/ADHD you'll be able to do this - trust me, I know)

If anybody else has a handy trick to keep environmental writers block at bay, please feel free to share!

As for me, I am going to get back to my writing...


Vodka Mom said...

I write with the dogs barking, the kids fighting, matthew throwing shit as Sassy, Bitchy calling me on my cell, and Bob yelling at me to get off the computer..

I'm not saying the writing is GOOD, however.

Elana Johnson said...

I have the opposite of environmental writer's block. If it's too quiet I get nervous! I actually turn on the TV before writing. Or stick in the headphones with really loud music.

I like the "reality weakness"! Ha ha!

Donna Reed In Blue Jeans said...

With me, it's not so much that I don't have any ideas, but that I can't type three words without having to stop because Sophie has gotten into something or doing something that she's not supposed to do. Now, I'm also taking care of my BFF's 3 month old baby, so that's consuming a fair amount of time as well.

Mary Duncan said...

I so hear you, Terri. With me, I have to have no distractions. It's easier with me as there's just Dan and I, but with the ADD thing, remaining still for long also has its own set of obstacles. Some examples...

Need tea. Did I hang the wash? Who the hell is making that racket outside!? Dammit! Where's that piece of paper I wrote that great thought on the other day? Am I having a hot flash or did someone turn on the heat? Has someone emailed me yet? Gotta check Facebook.

But, somehow, I manage to write about an 8 to 10 page chapter a day, even with the mental disability. To me, it's all consuming. Basically because I'm so curious to find out what going to happen with my friends in my story.


Kathryn Hupp-Harris said...

My hand is raised.

Headphones with loud music works. So does hyperfocusing.

Are you starting a support group for this? :-)

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oh, yeah, I know all about environmental writer's block. It is a inconvenient truth, indeed.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately I've become able to block out Husband, my 2 kids, the dog, the TV, radio, the dishwasher and anything else that might try and get my attention. I'm not sure if that's a good thing - or not! :)

LiteralDan said...

I know what you mean-- I have all kinds of would-be opportunities I just can't make use of for some reason or another.

If it wasn't for blogging, I'd hardly write anything at all!

Anne Spollen said...

I love those magazine articles that tell moms MAKE THE TIME. Uh huh. Provided kids don't need clean socks in the morning or a breakfast.

But, yeah. What I do is sit down to write and then read blogs and articles on publishing. Sometimes even when I do have the time, I don't want to face my own writing.
Internal Environmental Block?