How do you write (or live) when you’re surrounded by distractions? Recently, a great teacher was talking to me about me being his writing coach, but he was hesitant to start right now because of his new class load.
I’m a seize the moment kind of human because I always expect to die tomorrow. That ticking-clock point of view keeps me moving and going despite distractions, but I know not everyone is that way.
When I was a newspaper editor and Em was little, I was always dealing with distractions and I would write anywhere – at a planning board meeting, at a swim meet, at the Y on the bike, waiting in the car to pick Em up after school, in bed, standing at the counter, anywhere and everywhere. Noise was everywhere. Ten-year-olds would be having sleep-overs. Dinner would need to be made. Dogs would be barking.
And I would write.
I knew that if I wanted to write, then I had to write. And to do that? I had to force my brain to filter though the distractions and be in the flow.
So how do you do that?
According to an article on the Entrepeneur by Deep Patel, which we’ve linked to in the notes for this podcast, there are several decent methods for dealing with distractions.
Make It Chill
He says to, “Begin building habits that help you eliminate distractions and stay focused. Start by creating an environment in which you’re less tempted to get preoccupied with something other than what you’re working on.”
That means make things quiet. Close your door. Turn off the cell.
Make Pretend Deadlines
Deadlines make us focus. Make small time limits for you to get your work done instead of giving yourself all day to get your priorities done. I (Carrie) do this all the time, actually and even stress about my completely self-imposed deadlines. That anxiety sucks, but that focus? It makes me get a lot of things done.
Get into The Pondoro Method
What is this? It sounds sort of x-rated, right? It’s not.
Patel explains it as a method “in which you set a timer and are completely focused on a task for a period of time, such as 45 minutes straight. Then allow yourself a 15-minute break.”
It’s actually another thing Carrie does all the time, only she’s a 50-10 split. She also makes herself stand for that 10 minutes because she’s afraid of Dead Butt Syndrome, which we talked about in an earlier podcast. You should look it up. It’s wild in a dead-butt kind of way.
There you go. Three hot tips to help keep yourself from being distracted in 2020.
Writing Tip of the Pod
Don’t let distractions become your attention.
Dog Tip for Life
Pant throughout the podcast, look cute, and rest your muzzle on someone’s knee.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.
I’m about to publish a super cool adult novel. Gasp! I know! Adult! That’s so …. grown-up? I’ll be sending out more news about this soon!
Some days you might not feel super wise.
You might accidentally get kitty litter smeared into your side while indulging in your secret nasty addiction.
Your humans who love you will STILL love you. Mistakes happen. But so does joy. Hold onto the joy not the mistakes.
This week’s Cooking With an Author – vegetarian recipes with a quirky, author twist is here. It’s all about hangover burritos. You do not have to be hungover or to ever have had alcohol to enjoy them.
The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here!
“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”
“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”
My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!
It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!
Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?
Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.
In our random thoughts, we talk about dogs crying, empathy, tribalism and social media. Those aren't fully transcribed here. Pharrell Williams says in a Masterclass that his imagination helped him survive, but as he grew up he realized that he was only seeing the world in one way, which was from his experience. The day that you stop being curious, you stop learning, he thinks. “The universe doesn’t stop,” he says, “so why should my curiosity?” Empathy helps people be more creative. Empathy towards other helps you realize that you know that they exist. When you’re in partnerships, he said, empathy is the role call, it’s where you show that everyone exists and it allows you to be open and create bigger projects and relationships. So, let’s think about that in the bigger picture about our society and kids, okay? In a New York Times article by Matt Richtel, he focuses on U.S. teens and their depression, anxiety, suicide and self-harm. He chronicles one ten-year-old’s journey on an iPod Touch that their grandparents gave them. The kid posted selfies. Some people (men) sent photos of their penises and asked for the kid to send naked photos back and also solicited them for sex. The kid, C, tried to ignore it. “That plan did not work out. The internet seeped into C’s psyche; severely depressed, they found kinship online with other struggling adolescents and learned ways to self-harm,” Richtel writes. For teens in the U.S. the risks are no longer drugs, drinking, and getting pregnant. Now they are anxiety, self-harm, suicide, depression. “What science increasingly shows is that virtual interactions can have a powerful impact, positive or negative, depending on a person’s underlying emotional state,” Richtel writes. He adds ...
A lot of writers will worry that their stories seem flat. There’s a reason that they are worrying about that and it’s one of the core elements of good writing. Ready? You want to vary your sentence structure. Take a bit of writing that you’ve done that feels flat—or maybe even one that doesn’t. Count the words in your sentences for two or three paragraphs. Are they all five words? Twelve? Twenty-seven? That robotic sameness in sentence length is one of the main reasons that writing can feel flat. It’s like those ancient Dick and Jane books. See Dick run. See Jane skip. See Dick wave. The other big bugger is when all of your sentences are simple and declarative. I walk to the forest. The trees are gracious, tall. I inhale the pine scent. There is actually a whole, entire world of different sentence styles that writers can use and when you use them? That’s when you make your writing shiny and sexy and all the good things. The names for these structures are pretty boring, honestly, but we’ll try to look beyond that, right? Simple – You have one main clause. Carrie is the best wife. Compound – You have more than one independent clause. You probably use a conjunction. Carrie wants to get another dog, but Shaun keeps saying no. Complex – Oh, the sentence that probably has to pay for a therapist or is reading Foucault obviously in the park. This sentence has an independent clause and a subordinate clause. It’st the BDSM of sentences. When hell freezes over, we will allegedly get another dog. Compound-Complex – It sounds like a place with a cult, right? But it’s just a sentence with at least two independent clauses and one subordinate clause. Carrie really ...
So, there’s a lot of scuttlebutt in the children’s book world about agents behaving badly, which sounds like a Spring Fling Road Trip kind of thing, honestly. But it’s more about agents being dicks and unprofessional. One recent superstar agent has been outed for allegedly “no longer agenting ethically” and not telling clients about their foreign rights, submissions, and speaking badly about authors to other industry professionals or being sexually harassing, bigoted, racists schmucks. There’s a weird power dynamic that happens between traditionally published authors and their agents. The agents are really gatekeepers to the industry even if they don’t want to be, and it’s good for writers to remember that they can expect to not be treated like crap. Things you don’t want your agent to: Ghost you.Be such a tool that most editors don’t want to work with them.Give you hives.Not telling who your book is being submitted to.Sexual harass you, be racist, be too burnt out or wigged out on drugs or alcohol that they don’t represent you well.Be too busy that they don’t represent you well. We aren’t going to call out agents here because that’s not what we’re about, but here are myths about agents that new authors really need to understand: They work for you. You don’t work for them.They are human not gods. Be gentle with them, but expect them to be professional.Though it’s awesome when they are, it’s not their job to be your bestie.They may not be your agent for life. So what is their job? Get book contracts for you.Negotiate those contracts for you.Submit your manuscripts to get those contracts.Protect your interests. Doing all this they should always: Respond in a timely fashion to ...