Dispatches from the Desk: August 23, 2012 – Distractions

by Libby Cudmore & Matthew Quinn Martin

…hello all, your president and vice president here with our new semi-regular featured blog post.


We’ve all been there. Maybe you are now. You sit down to write, all geared up, notes in hand, perfect story on the tips of your fingers. You’ve got the whole day just waiting to be seized. Nothing but you and the words. No distractions this time.

But you can’t be expected to write on an empty stomach. So you go ahead and make yourself some breakfast. Bacon, eggs, toast, a banana and some Tim Horton’s coffee you stocked up on during the reunion. Delicious. Now back to the keyboard or the yellow legal pad.

…dude, just got the new Call of Duty…and speaking of “duty” would it kill you to change the litter box?

Ten minutes later the cat is meowing, and to ignore him would be cruel. And besides, all that meowing is so distracting! Maybe he’ll shut up if toss the mousie at him a few times, snuggle him a little. That seemed to work and now back to work.

Then the phone rings. It’s your mother. Much as you’d like to, you can’t ignore her. Then just as you get her off the line, it buzzes again and now it’s  a friend you haven’t spoken with in months. You should just turn that phone off, but what if your boss calls, or there’s an emergency?

OK, back to work––right after you check your email. It’s been a while since you’ve gotten a rejection from McSweeny’s. And low and behold, you are in luck. A form rejection, your tenth in as many weeks, waits for you in your inbox.

You’re too depressed to write now. Maybe something to take your mind off it all for a bit. Monster High dollies were meant to be played with after all. You wouldn’t have put them on your desk if they weren’t there to inspire you. That bass guitar you save up for months to buy seems to be getting a little dusty. It stares at you reproachfully from the corner of your office.

DON’T judge me

Good thing it’s lunchtime. You eat fast. But then you feel a bit bloated. Maybe just a half hour of boob tube while you digest.

You’re getting worried. If you don’t get something on paper soon, this book will never get done. No book no advance. (or for those more literary types, no publications no tenure…no grant money). And then how will you afford health insurance? Good thing it’s only a year and a half until Obamacare kicks in.

But what if  Mitt Romney  gets elected? Maybe a quick peek at today’s tracking polls will put your mind at ease. Jeez look at that in the sidebar…Todd Akin said what! And that Lindsey Lohan had another nip-slip! She’s always getting into trouble.

Why are you so sleepy all of a sudden? Maybe a quick nap will actually help reenergize your brain. Twenty minutes turns into an hour. And hour turns into two. Luckily, the cat wants to play again, so he wakes you up.

Crap! Dinnertime already? Guess you could write after you watch your favorite show, right before you hit the hay. Man, where did this day go?

As writers, we’re naturally drawn to stimulation––physical, mental, spiritual, you name it. All those conversations, news stories, web articles, TV shows, new movies, are just there waiting…and any one of them might inspire you! You owe it to your writing to read the latest issue of Glamour, or scour the internet for hours in the name of “research.” But often what we reach for in the name of support simply becomes another distraction.

So, dear Alumni, what do you find gobbling up the most of your writing time? And what strategies do you have to share for slaying the dragon of distraction?


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