Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If You Give A Writer A Pen

I'm recycling a post I did on my own blog about a year ago, but it's something I still struggle with today so I thought I would share it here. Enjoy!

If you give a writer a pen, she’ll ask for a piece of paper.

When you hand her the paper, she’ll notice your watch and ask what time it is.

You’ll tell her and she’ll remember she has an appointment.

She’ll grab her phone to call and say she’s going to be late.

Her phone will show she has an email from her critique partner.

She’ll respond to the email.

Her critique partner will see the response right away then want to chat on Twitter.

She’ll log into Twitter and see a tweet on an interesting blog post.

She’ll open the blog and begin to read it.

The blog will include a music video she’ll like and she’ll want to download the song.

When she opens iTunes she’ll see she has updates pending.

While she’s waiting for the updates, she’ll log into Facebook to see what her friends are up to.

One of her friends will have sent her a message saying they want to meet for lunch.

This will remind her she’s late for her appointment.

She’ll need to write a note to tell her husband she’s going out.

You’ll give her a pen.

And chances are, if you give her a pen, she’ll ask for a piece of paper to go with it.

The ‘If you give…’ books by Laura Numeroff are some of my daughter’s favorites.  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is the most widely known, though our family favorite is If You Give a Pig a Pancake.  The stories are made up of situations where one thing leads to another, and then another, until you end up right back where you started.

I often feel like this when I sit down to write.  My intention is to just write, but the many distractions of life, and largely the internet, get in the way.  Eventually I find I’ve wasted copious amounts of time not writing.  I do usually get back to what I was doing, but I’ve often lost the inspiration I had when I originally sat down.

Some of those distractions are necessary evils of being a writer, but I’m working on limiting them.  I’ve been trying to do my writing first before logging onto social media.  Or, if there is something I need to look up online, I refuse to look at anything else except the specific information I was searching for.  Sometimes I'll even set a kitchen timer so that I know I can only be online for twenty minutes instead of an hour (or more).

Do you find yourself easily distracted when you should be writing?  I’d love to hear how you handle that.

Now, where did that pen go?


  1. I find myself purposefully distracted. I constantly jump online as a way of procrastinating. When I'm not writing, I want to be writing. When I can write, I want to be online reading about writing and connecting with writers. Gah! The best thing to do is use Freedom. It turns off the Internet for a period of time (that you set) and you can't turn it back on. Work gets done.

  2. Wonderful and fabulous! Great post.

  3. Loved this post! Made me laugh and then think, "Uh-oh. That's me!"

  4. This happened to me today. I was so sure I would just do that important thing I needed to do then write before checking the internet proper. I ended up not writing.

    It's nice to know I'm not alone in this struggle. Your words are encouraging.

  5. Found a link to this post over at Steve Laube's blog while I was supposed to be writing. How apropos. Wonderful words. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I saw the link on Facebook when I should be doing other things, like writing. Thanks for such a well-timed post.

  7. Oh my goodness this is exactly how I have been feeling and it has made me restless! I am planning to have a social media diet this weekend because really every waking second I am checking my instagram, my facebook, etc. I.e. when I wake up, when I go to bed. It is a bit unnerving that I have developed this habit! This weekend I will dedicate more time to writing, and see how I fare without the social media noise!