Time, Momentum, and Concentration: the anti-Writer’s Block

Momentum: the motion of a body or system, equal to the product of the mass of a body and its velocity.

            Antonym: paralysis.

Concentration: the act of bringing one’s efforts, faculties, etc., to bear on one thing.

            Antonym: distraction.

 

The idea of “home-based support services” is that the respite provider comes and takes the kid (or, in my case, kids) off your hands for a couple of hours, so that you can focus on something else.

 

The reality is that I’m working at a computer upstairs while Melinda tries to keep the kids occupied downstairs. The problem? They know I’m here. So Julianna is whining and crying, being a general PITA (this is called manipulation), and Alex keeps dragging imaginary dinosaurs to me so I can kick them out the window.

 

It’s instinctive behavior. Seriously.

 

I intended to write for an hour and then blog, but there is no concentration to be had, so we’re reworking the schedule.

 

As often as not, what we call writer’s block is really more a problem of momentum. Getting going on something takes a lot of mental effort, but once the gears are spinning, you can return from one day to the next and get going again with relative ease. I find that it’s less a problem for me when I’m working on short projects, i.e. articles or music, because I can focus on a small piece and finish in an hour or two.

 

The same is not true of novel writing. If I’m trying to develop a voice for a character, for instance, I need concentrated time to get into his or her head, and once there, I have to carry it throughout the book. If I’m trying to weave in a subplot, I have to spend a lot of time reading what’s already there, and figuring out where the narrative will allow me to insert whole scenes, or work the subplot into existing ones.

 

Once the gears are turning, I only need concentration. Unfortunately, these days the only concentration I get is if I remove myself or the children. I’m rarely able to work during respite visits, though, because I don’t have a laptop, and there isn’t any way to seal myself off from the household.

 

Two words: nap…time.

 

Which is now. 55 minutes to the arrival of my first lesson. Time to stop blogging and get to work.

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Published in: on June 27, 2008 at 6:09 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Aaah, nice post. I don’t have children, but I totally hear you on this. (I just bought a dog — going adjustment distractions at the moment, which is why I’m commenting on blogs rather than writing…)

    I hear you on the need for large chunks of concentrated time (for novels). Sometimes it’s not only that I feel schizophrenic with my voices, but that I’m so distracted that I render my characters schizoid also!

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    “why I’m commenting on blogs rather than writing… ”

    I was just thinking that blogs are quite a distraction from the work of writing. :)

    My novel writing involves multiple drafts to deal with schizoid problems, POV problems, not to mention subplots.

  3. [...] Paralysis. [...]


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