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  • Writer's pictureLaura L. Zimmerman

The Beauty of Distracted Writing

I used to think I couldn’t write unless I had at least an hour or more to devote to it. Which, of course, rarely happens, since a little thing called ‘life’ always seems to get in the way. Day after day of zero word counts would pass, and my frustration would only grow. Finding the time to write has always been my number one problem with… well, my writing.


I know, I know. I’m preaching to the choir. Every writer admittedly struggles to find those few extra minutes each day, to get their thoughts on paper. Especially considering the majority of writers do so on their own free time – we have jobs, families and a million other obligations that steal our time away, leaving us feeling empty and frustrated when we can’t put pen to paper. It seems that lately, this has been a common theme I’ve seen at writer’s meetings and on blogs, where the subject is simply how to find time in your day to get. some. writing. done!

This whole idea of having no less than an hour to write mostly has to do with the fact that I want to avoid as much distraction as possible. Makes sense, right? I mean, I’ve never wanted to settle for only a 5 minute block of time, or writing in the living room while children scream and run around me, because it just seemed like it would be pointless. I’ve never felt that I could do my best writing in that environment. And recently I’ve been reading of the skyrocketing number of mistakes parents and employees make because our brains just aren’t wired to multi-task. I didn’t want to become a statistic. So I fought for that hour each day… and I’ve been fighting ever since.

But here’s the thing: I’ve been so frustrated over finding that hour to write each day, that I’ve often taken it out on the people I love. Sort of counter-productive to hurt the people around us just to get a few minutes writing, don’t ya think?

Years ago, I read an interview with a fairly well known YA author who said there was no excuse for author’s who claimed they didn’t have time to write. That even when she was in college, she would carry her Blackberry to class and write for the 5 minutes downtime she had before class.


At the time, I appreciated her suggestion, but again, I decided that just wasn’t going to work for me. That’s not how my brain functions. When I sit down to focus, I have to sit down for a length of time. If it’s not going to be that long, then it will be a waste.

Or so I thought…

Then 2015 rolled around. This year I decided I really needed to make strides to get more consistent with my writing, to never let a day pass without writing at least something. I involved myself in writing groups where we hold each other accountable for the number of words we get in each day. The embarrassment of reporting that I’ve written a big, fat 0 outweighed my stubbornness.

And so it began… I would write first thing in the morning, even if the kids were already up (and asking me questions). Even if it only turned out to be 10 minutes. I wrote at night, when it was already past bedtime, and I thought there was no way I could write one single word. I sat down and wrote something – anything – so that I could say I’d done it. I’ve written in the middle of the day, with ‘Cupcake Wars’ reruns, and the sound of my daughter’s bickering, blaring in the background.

Here’s what I discovered: It is totally possible to write this way. Not only that, but it’s actually rewarding! Are the things I’ve written perfect? No, but that’s where revision and editing come in. But at least I have something down. A writer isn’t a writer, if there’s nothing on the paper! I’m here to say that dropping my preconceived notion that I must have a specific amount of time to write each day, has greatly improved my writing and has made me happier, overall!

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What about you? Are you a distracted writer? What has been your experience in finding time to write each day? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Happy reading, friends!

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