Monday, August 7, 2017

The Battle Against Distractions

By Jennifer Bean Bower

Several days a week I have the opportunity to work at home. On those days, I rise early as I am eager to work on an article, chapter, or pitch. Yet, at the end of most days—no matter how hard I try—my cursor sits blinking on an empty screen of white.

Where does the time go? And, more importantly, why can I not write? The answer is easy.

Home is a hard place from which to write. For it is there that distractions consume my time and steal my thoughts.  

Early on, I took my distractions in stride and would cease writing for anything. If the phone rang, I answered it. If I was invited to a three-hour lunch, I accepted. If the laundry basket was full, I emptied it. No matter the interruption, it received my full attention; writing, however, did not. After all, there would be other days to write, and if need be, I could stay up all night. But that way of thinking proved detrimental to my writing. As a result of not prioritizing my writing, I submitted a poorly composed article to a publisher I had longed to write for. Needless to say, I was not asked to write for them again. At that point, I knew something had to change. I needed a strategy if I was going to write and write well.

First, I compiled a list of distractions. Then, I came up with a plan to defeat them. But, the battle was not easy. I turned off the phone to prevent it from ringing, but someone knocked at my door. I said no to a lunch invitation, but worried that I had offended a friend or family member. I hid the laundry in a closet, but could not get the sight of unfolded clothes out of my mind. For every distraction conquered, a new one took its place. The struggle was endless.

Finally, I had an epiphany. Distractions were not the enemy. The problem was my perception of writing. When I worked full-time, outside of the home, I was not hindered by any of the distractions on my list. I went to work, completed my duties and went home. After work, and on my days off, I completed housework, talked on the phone, and enjoyed time with family and friends.

When it came to writing, however, I failed to recognize it as a job—a career. Yet, the definition of career is “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.” I have been writing for many years and have no plans to stop. And, in regard to “opportunities for progress,” who knows what the future holds.

Once I started putting value on my time and writing, others did too. Now, when I am officially on the clock; phone calls, visits, requests for time, and thoughts of laundry, are less frequent. If you are in a current battle with distractions, think about how you—and others—perceive your writing. Perhaps all you need is a new perspective.
Jennifer Bean Bower is a native Tar Heel and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Bower has written numerous articles and is the author of four books: North Carolina Aviatrix Viola Gentry: The Flying Cashier; Animal Adventures in North Carolina;Winston & Salem: Tales of Murder,Mystery and Mayhem; and Moravians in North Carolina. She lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with her husband Larry and their pet rabbit Isabelle. To learn more about Bower and her writing projects, please visit:

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