Does anyone else struggle with this one?
I was reading a post on Twitter this morning about how distractions can ruin a writer’s career. The irony hit me in the forehead—instead of writing that new novel I’ve been researching, I was cruising social media, in effect participating in those very distractions.
It’s not easy to be a writer these days. I’m not sure if it was any easier in Dashiell Hammett’s days or Geoffrey Chaucer’s but a million things compete for a writer’s attention today.
Master writer Michael Crichton had a shack in his backyard with no communications whatsoever allowing him absolute quiet and privacy. I nicknamed Crichton’s shack the Man Cave and decided I needed one of my own. Not having enough room in my backyard for a shack, I dedicated one of the bedrooms in my house (when my son moved out, also ensuring he couldn’t move back in!) to be a She Shed.
My She Shed has several bookcases filled with my favorite books, DVDs and mementoes from my life. It has a couch and a television but only as a monitor. No cable. My She Shed also has a retro turntable to play the LPs I still have and dearly love, plus a CD player. My father always said, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
In other words, I got carried away with my She Shed and provided more distractions of another kind. It’s easy to do and Crichton would not be pleased. However, I do have a retreat from the world and I don’t allow the Internet to follow me into my private space. There’s a door and most of the time, my family stays out if the door is closed. Real thinking can be and is conducted there. If no other writing activity is produced in my retreat, thinking is surely number one.
It’s unique for every writer: that fine balance between life’s activities and the discipline needed to sit at some writing device and do the work. That’s what writing is—old-fashioned, butt-in-the-seat work. Creative thought doesn’t always come easily and if it does, don’t take it for granted. We each need to find our own Man Cave or She Shed, those quiet places to do what we’re meant to do: write.
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