Work, Interrupted

~ By Julia Broadbooks

In an ideal world, I would sit at my desk every morning and sip a hot cup of coffee as the words flow from my fingertips as I sit in absolute silence.

I don’t live in that world. Like ever.

Sometimes the coffee is cold before I even sit at my desk. Sometimes it’s already past lunchtime. I’ll admit to feeling discouraged those days. I haven’t started and I’m already behind my schedule! There was a time when I’d give up and wait for the “perfect” day to write.

Only nothing about my life is perfect for long.

My kids are grown but they still want me to drop whatever I’m doing to listen to their stories or my husband needs to urgently discuss our plans for next month. A quick fact-checking google search turns into hours spent reading about the Paris metro system or the average weather in Vancouver. If it isn’t the internet, social media with its pins and tweets and likes can gobble up hours at a stretch. But for me the absolute worst is the ever-growing to-do list. Bills that need paying and phone calls that need to be returned and the mountain of laundry waiting to be dealt with.

So I’ve got to come up with ways to cope with the endless distractions.

laptop, coffee, pastryMy first line of defense is headphones. A great playlist or even a white noise app (I like the free White Noise Lite) can drown out many a story about which Real Housewife is making the news this week. If that fails, a door is another more physical barrier between me and everyone who wants to tell me about their day or that we’re still out of milk or that someone on the Internet was amusing.

I’ve also had to accept that most days I’m not going to get five or six uninterrupted hours of time. But I will get that time to work if I grab a half an hour in between the last load of laundry and when I have to start dinner. I’ve written in the car while waiting for the kids or on my lunch break at work. It isn’t the way I prefer to work but all of those little chunks of time can add up to a lot of words. Especially if I take advantage of interruptions as time to plot. Folding laundry, washing dishes and walking the dog are prime thinking time.

I carry a notebook and pen that allow me to compose on the fly or even just make note of the solution to a plot problem that has been nagging at me. I even have a couple of great apps on my phone (Draft for composing and ColorNote for lists) that let me take advantage of time spent waiting at the doctor’s office or while waiting for friends.

Even Twitter can be a tool to keep me productive. With the #1k1hr (1000 words in one hour), I can almost always find some fellow writer fighting for focus. It’s nice not to feel alone in my struggle.

How about you? Any great solutions to getting those words even when life keeps upsetting your plans?

Romance writer. Cookbook reader. Native New Yorker who fled from the snows. Gardner worth a black thumb. Always on twitter @juliabroadbooks.

5 thoughts on “Work, Interrupted”

  1. Julia Broadbooks

    Jennifer, I like the timer idea as much as Kylie! It’s easier to put off checking for the awaited email for a finite period of time.

    Thanks for the link, Stephanie. I’ll have to try that. It rains pretty often in FL but I like the sound, especially when it’s fake rain and I can still see the sunny skies!

    Thanks for stopping by, Abigail!

  2. Julia,

    I use a timer, which I set anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. No texting, facebook, Twitter, etc until the timer dings. I’m not always good at keeping to the timer, but it helps. And I find the shorter time more manageable than an hour, though I do participate in those from time to time.


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