Sunday, 26 January 2014

How to Write With Emotional Distractions

As you may have noticed, I have not been around much. For that I apologize. My life has been an emotional roller-coaster. After a few months of travel, I return hoping to get back to normalcy only to have my husband say he's moving out. Yes, I was incredibly shocked.

To make matters worse, I've had to re-enter the work force. I have gone from being a full-time writer to a part-time writer.

I have been determined to continue writing but the road is hard. My "writer's block" does not come from lack of creativity but from my emotions blocking the words. I've managed to complete a few writing projects however and I thought I would share some tips that got me through the emotional distractions.

(1) Set small and specific goals --> Goals like 'write 1000 words' or 'edit a third of the book' are difficult for me to do right now. However, I've been able to complete goals such as 'edit: create a list of earrings described in the the book' and 'write paragraph: why are there burn marks on the wall?'. These specific, little goals add up. I've actually accomplished a lot of writing over the last few weeks.

(2) Take mental breaks --> Don't beat yourself up if you need mental breaks. I need several throughout the day. I find walking the dog helps. Also, now that my husband's gone, I have one less person to talk to, so, I talk to myself more. But instead of wallowing, I try to talk about the chapter I'm working on or why I like a certain character.

(3) Take good notes --> I have a bad memory at the best of times. With all the stress I'm going through now, I'm lucky if I remember to eat. So, I've started to take good notes. I write down everything: my writing goals for the day, what I've accomplished that day, and I take detailed records of characters, timelines, and chapter outlines. That way, if I can't remember what I did last week or last month, I don't have to panic, I can just refer to my notes.

(4) Don't multi-task --> Although multi-tasking seems more efficient, it's not. Our brains don't work that way. When you try to accomplish many things at once, the information doesn't get stored in long-term memory. That means, you don't remember things. For me to improve as a writer, I need to keep as focused as I can. And so in my emotionally distracted state, multi-tasking is counter productive. Train your brain to stay focused. Here's a fantastic article to help you stay focused: link here.

Have you ever felt muddled? How have you coped with emotional distractions?


31 comments:

  1. Clarissa, I'm sorry!! That's horrible. Sorry you have to go through such a mess.
    I multi-task at work (working, blogging, and watching a movie) but when I write, I focus only on that.

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    1. Thanks for your concern. It means a lot.

      I tend to multi-task on certain things but you're right, with writing, it's best to focus only on that.

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  2. Clarissa - Oh, I am sorry! What a terrible time you're going through. It's not easy, but you will get accustomed to part-time writing. I like your plan to start with small goals. Right now you need to take care of yourself. You can use those little sense of accomplishments to build yourself up.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. I'm trying to get well emotionally and accomplishing those little tasks do boost my confidence.

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  3. I'm so sorry! What a major adjustment. Taking small steps is a wise choice.

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  4. So sorry to hear that, Clarissa! I'm sure this period in your life is extremely hard. ((hugs)) I can hear your desire to forge ahead, make sense of some of this, and keep writing. You are obviously strong, probably stronger than you think. Take care of your 'whole' self. The writing will still be here and so will we.

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    Replies
    1. You're right. Moving forward is the only way. Sometimes I just feel like wallowing in the past but really there's no point.

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  5. Multi-tasking is very counter-intuitive, so I'm slowly retraining myself to stay on one track. Good advice Clarrisa!

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  6. I'm sorry that life has kind of blind-sided you. You have my sympathies.

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  7. Clarissa, I'm so sorry to hear this. I can't imagine how awful things must seem right now. It's good that you are keeping yourself occupied and not focusing on the challenges.

    I've kinda realized that multi-tasking doesn't work for me, particularly at the office. It feels like I'm not getting anything done when I'm doing too many things all at once.

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  8. Life comes with its share of planned and completely-out-of-the-blue moments. Makes me want to wag a finger at it. You've done well finding ways to function and write through the emotional distractions. For me, if I'm particularly distracted, I take a ride in the car, play and scream with the music for a bit then come home refreshed, ready to tackle a matter.

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  9. I saw your comment on my blog and was horrified. I am so, so sorry about what has happened to you. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, please let me know. Be strong, Clarissa. You will ride this out. You will. And if you want, you will be happier than you ever were before. Please know I'm thinking of you and wishing you well. Hugs and love. oxox

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  10. Clarissa, so sorry for what you're going through. Life can definitely throw some curves sometimes. You're strong and an inspiration to others. Setting up your goals as you have shows that you will come out of this even stronger and happier. Sending hugs and positive thoughts your way. Take care of yourself, but know you can do it (whatever it is you want to do)!

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  11. We all have emotional ups and downs and crises of one kind or another; a marriage breakup is certainly one of the most painful ones, I suppose. Depending on how painful it is for you, don't rush too much trying to get back to normal. The writing and all will be there waiting for you when you are over the pain. I think that's the most important thing. The rest will take care of itself.

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  12. I'm so sorry to hear about all the upheaval, Clarissa. The small goals idea is a powerful one. I often struggle with creative pursuits when I'm under a lot of emotional strain. Research is where I can most easily pour my energy. It doesn't require me to put out but simply to take in.

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  13. Putting all the writing stuff aside for a minute.
    I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through Clarissa. That sucks! You are right about not wallowing in it, but make sure you allow yourself to have all the emotions that come with this kind of terrible thing. So many people just tuck them away, but that never really works. Please take care of yourself and hang in there.

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  14. Sorry to hear about your troubles, can't be much fun right now. Glad you're finding time to write and moving forward with your goals. Your strength and talent are still with you, and so are your blogger buddies.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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  15. I've read what everyone else has said, and they all offered great advice. I'm so sorry you're having to go through this, but it will get better as you heal. I agree with your process, and totally about multi-tasking. I don't do that well to begin with, and I'm taking baby steps to keep myself focused - which used to never be a problem. Slowly but surely.

    You have my email. Feel free to use it if you want to chat or just vent and rant. It's a stress-relief zone.

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  16. I am sorry to hear about your current challenges Clarissa. I will keep you in my prayers during this challenging time.

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  17. You're having some tough breaks Clarissa. So sad for you. Its good that you are focussing on what can be accomplished and not on what you think you "should". Small steps is still small steps.

    Hang in there, it will someday get better.

    .........dhole

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  18. Good for you, Clarissa. Know your limitations; know your strengths! All my best wishes are with you.
    Beyond Acadia

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  19. I'm sorry life had been smacking you around. Hope it will let you recover your balance soon.

    Thanks for some very good advice. If I may offer an idea in return - when you're talking to yourself about your work, use a voice recorder. That way you'll capture any little gems you might think of and you won't be talking to yourself, you'll be dictating.

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  20. Hi Clarissa - I'm shocked too ... how very difficult for you. But you seem to have clarity of mind, practicality of mind ... having dealt and learnt to live with major challenges in recent years ... it was just getting by to start with: doing what I needed to do and no more.

    It was when I started the blog and I found the process of finding friends around the blogosphere, ie people who connected with what I was writing, and who knew little or nothing about what else was going on in the background (other than my mother and uncle were terminally ill) ... by having the blog to come back to, to think about, to talk about, to wake up to just made an enormous difference.

    I can imagine walking the dog helps hugely .. they say a good walk clears the air ...

    I'm here at the end of an email .. but I expect and hope that you have people who will be around to help, guide, hug, chat and support you ... as you adjust and the wheels of this journey sort themselves out ...

    With many thoughts - Hilary

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  21. Clarissa, I'm sooooo sorry! My heart aches for you. Wish I had a magic wand that could make this mess go away. You're a really strong person to carry on with your writing, even if you need breaks, with so much emotion to deal with. Betrayal is the most difficult emotion to cope with. When my husband was on active duty I worked with distressed wives. It may not seem like it now, but, in the long run, it's most effective to talk with your spiritual mentor or other professional as emotions have a way of creeping up. And, yep, make sure you've got a good lawyer!!

    GOOD LUCK!

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  22. I am very sorry to hear that too Clarissa. I know it may be like the last thing you want to do right now, but start meditating. (I speak from experience, it helps in time of crisis) Simply concentrate on your breathing for 10 min every day. Check youtube video as well about meditation. It will help clear your mind and relax and find for a few precious minutes, the peace and inner strength you need. And then in time, consider maybe yoga or reiki. You will be amazed with the results. I hope it helps.
    Walk as well as Hilary suggested. You're well surrounded.

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  23. Clarissa, I've been out of the blogosphere for awhile, and am still trying to catch up with everyone. I'm so very bummed for you. What a difficult thing to navigate. Have faith that everything will be all right in the end.

    Usually when I hear people talk about small goals, they give 1,000 words as an example. I like your small goal settings better! They feel much more attainable!

    Don't forget to take care of YOU!

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  24. I don't blog anymore, but I stop by occasionally to check in on old friends. So here I am, and so sorry for your trial. You know why I say I have great empathy for your emotional struggles. To say that the demise of a marriage is unsettling is the greatest of understatements! As Hilary says, I too am at the end of an email should you wish.

    Your small goals are brilliant! I would love to read another book by you, however long it might take. The writing is always there for us, should we need it for survival.

    Love and best wishes.... bestann07@gmail.com

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