You sit down to write, determined to make real progress on your work-in-progress. But, your ideas aren't flowing as freely as expected, you can't figure out the perfect word to replace the one that doesn't work or your character is simply not speaking to you. You get distracted. Before you know it, you're on Facebook...and then way too much time has slipped by.
I know this happens to me. That's why I've been brainstorming some strategies on how to defeat distraction:
1. Make lists. Wherever you're stuck in your book, make a list: possible character names, of ways for your character to solve her problem, a list of action verbs to replace the bland placeholder. Brainstorming is a way to get your creative juices -- and your story -- moving again.
2. Read. I constantly have various piles of picture books strewn about my office. When I'm stumped on my own writing, I'll often take a break and read several. Sometimes, this will spark an idea. If nothing else, it will spark a smile...and I've got to believe that a happy writer is a better writer!
3. Connect with other writers: You're likely part of one or more online communities of writers, e.g., the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, where you can go to ask for help on a vexing issue in your manuscript. Likewise, you can peruse posts and offer assistance to others. Just make sure that you don't spend so much time with your online friends that it becomes a distraction from your writing!
During our recent "embrace the cold" family trip to beautiful Banff, Canada, I found myself singing the song "Climb Every Mountain" from the Sound of Music. Now that I'm home, I realize this theme song also applies to the life of a children's picture book writer on the path to publication.
Today, my first "official" day of writing in 2019, I'm close to the top of the mountain. I'm exhilarated about the possibilities. I'm excited about the journey. I'm committed to scaling new heights.
But, as we did on our trek to the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff, I'll undoubtedly hit a switchback - a part of the path that seems to take me away from where I want to go. I'll need to decide: do I give in or keep moving forward? On our mountain hike, at one point I asked my husband whether our 9-year-old son was going to make it.. After all, we were not yet accustomed to the altitude and 5.5 kilometers up was starting to feel insurmountable. Of course, it wasn't. After we stopped for a snack, we resumed our route with renewed energy.
I will try to remember the mountain when my energy starts to sag or when I doubt that I'll reach my goal of seeing my stories in print. I will stop for a "snack" - whether it's a literal snack of the chocolate I so love or sustenance in the form of reading picture books, exchanging manuscripts with a critique partner or participating in an online writer's forum.
I will keep climbing the mountain.