One evening recently I sat down with a white board and different colored pens and started scrawling. Briefly, my mind exploded with research ideas, directions, plans, opportunities, people with whom I wanted to work or already had plans with, everything–in about six different colors.

After the board was full, I spent an hour going through aspects of it with the Philosopher, which meant even more cramped markering, arrows, circles, and the occasional star. Then I hung it on the wall so that the cats wouldn’t step on it, took a picture that’s sitting in my Evernote account and promptly developed a ridiculous amount of research/writer’s block.

With day to day distractions it’s so very easy to get fragmented, to wander off after whatever it was that last email needed, to answer the questions appearing at my office door, to focus on external things rather than stay within my own head.

Writing for me is usually a form exorcism, if you will.  I write to get the ideas out of my immediate thoughts, freeing my mind so that it settles and is quiet enough that I can sleep. It’s part of the reason I need software to manage my to do list and why having slipped on that software a bit has been driving me crazy–at 2 a.m. I was staring at the ceiling trying to remember a half dozen emails that I wanted to send today. I considered getting up and sending them then but was trying not to because I feared it would lead to a couple of hours of work rather than a few minutes…

But my thoughts have gotten fractured and writing hasn’t come as easily, which is frustrating no end to a woman who for years self-identified as “a writer, first…” and then everything else after that.

The Philosopher asked what my best writing practice had been  historically and I thought of the time of my great-undergraduate-thesis-rewrite. I’d been told to toss out thirty pages (the better 30, I thought) and redo them. I couldn’t concentrate at home and I was separated from my university geographically so was limited to public library access. One evening there proved solidly that this was not an option, it was a small branch where there was no designated quiet area nor any visible control over many children*. I ended up at a Starbucks near my then place of work, stuffed in a corner 3-4 evenings a week, zoned out, highly caffeinated, and writing.

Whether that will work again is unclear. Living only with one other person, I have a sense of obligation that I should go home. We have plenty of space where I can hole up in a room alone, but I worry that home will trigger too many other distractions.  And at work it’s too easy to get lost in email, or the current pit commonly known as the top of my desk. So I’m looking at coffee shops again. Fortunately, Chez Hedgehog has about a half dozen within a 15 minute walking distance. I just need to figure out who has the latest hours.

What do you do to get into the writing frame of mind?


*in the adult section, mind you, I wasn’t trying to do this among the picture books an expecting total silence.