Shiny and New

Have you heard the tale about the curious little girl who, after breakfast one morning, left the house and headed down the block to grandma’s house for supper? (Don’t worry … this isn’t one of those tales where the girl gets eaten by the big bad wolf.)

Well, the story goes something like this.

The little girl spotted her neighbour’s prize roses, stopped to enjoy their irresistible scent, and ended up staying for milk and cookies. By the time she left, it was almost noon.

A little further down the street, she stopped at another neighbour’s yard to check out the goldfish in the new pond, and decided to stay for lunch.

By early afternoon, she was back on the road, determined to make it all the way this time. Except in the next yard, she spied a flock of hummingbirds feasting on some impatiens and before she could control the impulse, she’d joined the neighbour for tea.

When the little girl finally arrived at grandma’s house, it was dark, supper was over, and grandma had gone to bed.

This week, I’m that little girl. Everything around me is shiny and new and so very distracting. And I know exactly why.

I’ve resumed rewrites on my women’s fiction story.

After reading through the opening chapters, I’ve discovered I’ve barely left the house, that there’s a really long journey ahead, for both my characters and for me. I’m sure I’ll occasionally be witty and brilliant, but at this stage of the rewrites, the work still sucks and all I want to do is shove the story back under the bed and find something better to work on.

So how do you keep yourself focused on your job, whatever it might be? Are there moments when your focus splinters and you find yourself ready to tackle the most dangerous stunt, if it will only save you from the dreariness ahead? Or do you put on blinders, refuse to get distracted, and stay the course until the end?

Curious minds what to know.


About Sheila Seabrook

Author of contemporary romance and women's fiction.

Posted on February 8, 2012, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Hi Sheila! Yes, what I do is, in the middle of editing, I’ll just have to sneak a peek at my e-mails to see what’s going on, or just take a short look on FB – all distractions that I could easily avoid. I have to just put my head down and “do it” and stop allowing myself to be distracted by anything and everything. When I’m in that special “mode” though, I’m unaware of time and get a lot done.

  2. I’m so with you, Sheila. I can get distracted too. For one of two reasons…I’m doing the part I don’t like, or I really do need a break, to rejuvenate.

    The problem is, telling the difference.
    And I lie to myself.
    A lot.

    • It’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read that line “And I lie to myself. A lot.” or there would be coffee all over the desk and computer screen.

      Thanks for the great laugh, Laura, and thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  3. Sheila, you are talking to a number one ADHD personality type. If I combine my engergies with the number of things that can distract me, I find myself dizzy, giddy but alas, at the end of the day not much real work. How I have learned to reign her (that ADHD part of me) is to have more than one project going. If I become distracted, that means it’s time to work on something else. If my current WIP has me stumped or I think it suddenly is trash, I close the doc and work on a post … I do an outline or I edit something. Birds, goldfish and roses are impossible to ignore … so maybe you should give in and write about them for a while 🙂

    To avoid working on multiple tracks endlessly and accomplishing nothing, I rely on a good friend, BETA reader and tough gal. Someone who can hit me with a brick and get me to refocus. I don’t recommend the brick, but a good friend who can gently bring you back is always a good writing tool 🙂

    • How I wish I could jump from project to project like you, Florence. When I do, my head starts spinning and I feel like I’m on a non-stop merry-go-round. So what I really need is a friend with a brick. LOL! Or perhaps I’ll just get myself some blinders so I’m not distracted by the shiny things.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  4. I hear you, Sheila. I am focused and disciplined when the work’s going well. When it’s not, I’ll be gripped by the urgent need to make a lasagna, powerwash the patio, and clean toilets. I wish I were kidding, especially since I’ll have to go to the store for the lasagna ingredients.

  5. I feel your pain, Sheila! I am in the middle of a third set of rewrites and I am distracted on a daily basis. Usually, it’s something fun–like a long weekend away with my husband–but the little things seem to also constantly pull me off task. i write on a computer that does not have email access, so, once I get started, I usually can crank it out. it’s getting my butt in the chair that has slowed me down this time. I do set a deadline for myself and as I draw nearer to it, I find myself moving more toward my goal. I have always been a stickler for deadlines! Both my kids were born on-time or early! 🙂 Good luck!

    • When it comes to appointments, I’m usually an early bird, but both my boys were born a week late. Perhaps that explains my adversion to deadlines. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping in, Tracy!

  6. Yes, yes, those da*n shiny objects!!! They are everywhere!! And the internet is my biggest and most shiny downfall. I try to escape it with a spiral and pen, but then I start noticing what needs dusting, or painting, and then I think about how that room will look once we get the new furniture…and then I get disgusted and go outside to write, and get tickled watching the soap opera that is our cockatiel aviary and all their personality antics, and then notice that the yard needs weedeating, and that the landscape timbers need to all be pulled out and done over with rocks, and maybe get some hedges for the front yard this spring…

    Ugh…I feel your pain, girl!

    • Oh yes, the Queen of Shiny Objects. I’d forgotten about your love for distractions, Sharla. I should come sit on your deck (since mine is too cold) and watch your cockatiel aviary. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I think we can all relate to distractions. Email and all the stuff that needs to be done. I’m one of those freaks who loves editing because the hardest part is done. I’m 1/3 through a new story and this is when I start to zone out.

    The words won’t write themselves and the editing won’t edit itself. Time to put on those big girl panties and just do it!

    • Ooohh, how I envy your love of editing, Christy. My first drafts usually write themselves but I’m left with a horrible mess and editing is a nightmare. As some of my friends say, NOS … or Nerves Of Steel. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping in!

  8. I relate Sheila! If I want to get anything done, the internet has to be turned off–it’s my “prize” for making my word count!

    • I like that, Coleen, awarding yourself a prize for reaching your goal. I may need a bigger prize to keep me focused right now, like say a trip to Hawaii. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Oh boy, do I hear you on this one, Sheila. And the Net provides such instant escape. Like right now I should be writing. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂 Back to work . . .

    • Someone should design a program that monitors the writers’ word count or goal. If you try to get on the internet before you reach your goal, your internet connection locks you out. Wow, wouldn’t that be enough to keep a person focused.

      Thanks for stopping by, Alicia. 🙂

  10. With my writing schedule, I’ve been pretty successful avoiding the Internet and writing through my goal pages. My big challenge will be during rewrites as i need to research a few items, etc. I’ve been able to keep my momentum by not allowing myself to stop and find a document, etc. Keeping my early morning schedule before the family wakes will most likely be my best strategy. When the kiddo wakes, it’s not my story anymore.

  11. Nice analogy, Sheila. Distractions aside, do we allow breathing room for creativity to unfold or do we hammer it into place?

    Focus, unfocus, refocus: some time ago, I found myself self-castigating for avoiding/ ‘neglecting’ the finishing touches on a quilt. After a week of that, when I sat down to finally finish it, I realized the break resulted in a clearer vision of what needed to be done. And I am more satisfied with the result.

    I have come to trust the ‘down’ time/distractions, etc. for being as necessary to the final product as the active work itself because, unconsciously, the mind continues to process creatively and is as necessary to creativity as breathing is to life.

    • You have an excellent point here, Theresa. We do need time for those ideas to percolate and gel, something we often forget when trying to produce work in a quick and timely manner.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  12. I have a terrible time with, too, Sheila. Sometimes getting away from the house, seeing and doing something different helps. sometimes just taking a guilt-free day off helps. But what helped me most recently was a friend stating the obvious (though hidden from at the time), “It’s a daily job that has to be done whether you feel like it or not.” It’s true. I have read so many posts by best-selling authors (usually men) who also state the obvious by saying, “writing is a business and you can’t be successful if you don’t treat it like one.”
    Trying to go back to being a business woman. 🙂

    • I try to do that, too, Marcia, treat it like a business. I’m at my desk every morning by 7:00. But some days, the brain doesn’t want to cooperate. It’s like a brain-blockage. LOL!

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  13. Sheila, I feel for you and with you – editing and rewrites are the worst!!! I love to write but the rest of the process is painful. and I procrastinate horribly. good luck

    • Procrastination is the worst, isn’t it, Louise? I struggle to determine whether I’m avoiding the work because it’s not on my list of favorite things to do at the moment, or whether it’s a true need to rejuvenate. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Oh Sheila do I ever hear you girl. It’s hard to stay focused with Life happening around you. Right now I have out of town family visiting and I have snuck in to use my computer and visit you. lol Yet I can’t seem to work on my WIP. It’s not going to be a very good ROW80 check in this weekend I’m afraid. But keep it up Sheila. You are an inspiration. 🙂

    • Karen, I appreciate you sneaking away from your guests to pay me a visit. 🙂 Visitors are important, too, and I know once they’re gone, you’ll be back in the saddle and ready to ace your ROW80 goals.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  15. I’m with Louise on this…I HATE rewriting and editing. Unless it’s going well. Usually it’s like pulling teeth. Even scrubbing the toilet can be a shiny new object depending on how bad it’s going. Oh…and there’s a cobweb in that corner I didn’t notice. 🙂

    The only thing I have going for me is that when I REALLY want to get it finished…I box myself into a corner. I put myself in a position where, if I don’t keep to a fairly rigid schedule, I’ll humiliate myself.

    So my suggestion to you is…if you really want to get it out of your hair…make some very public promises. There isn’t anything quite as motivating as seeing your self-imposed deadline creeping up on you. Especially when you announce it on Facebook, Twitter, your website and your blog.

    Good luck, Sheila! If you unlock a secret for learning to love editing, you could make a fortune! 🙂

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