Thursday, June 5, 2014

Staying in the Writing Zone

An entrepreneur from another age came up with an ingenious invention for eliminating distractions for writers called the Isolator. As the above photograph depicts, there was a mechanical solution for even the most human of behaviors, our inherent distractability. I had to laugh when I saw this product and wished I could go on the Internet and order it.

Whether this photo was originally a sight gag or a serious attempt to keep the writer distraction free and focused, the thinking behind the Isolator is as true today as it was in the past. Writing requires intense concentration over sustained periods of time. Even the slightest distractions can derail a writer's train of thought.

When writers are deep into the creation process, time and space seem to disappear, their creative juices begin to flow, and they write as if they could go on forever poring wisdom and enlightenment from the ends of their keyboard tapping fingers.

Then the doorbell rings, a telemarketer calls, or the neighbor's dogs start barking nonstop and the spell is broken. Being in the writing groove is nothing less than sacrosanct for writers. Not every writer is lucky enough to have a sanctum sanctorum immune from such distractions.

The image of the pastoral poet who creates beautiful verse next to a babbling brook amid warbling songbirds is stereotypical. Most of those cavalier love songs were written in noisy taverns by young bloods under the influence of the local grog. My point is that most writers create amid the distractions and cacophony of everyday life. 

As much as writers try to control life around them, writing doesn't happen in a vacuum. Dealing with interruption is a part of life and unavoidable. As annoying as distractions are, it is too easy for writers to get lost in their manuscripts and forget the greater world around them. For serious writers, the act of writing is a solitary obsession.

What drives every serious writer is the knowledge that when the muse strikes, she better find you working. Passion for the work trumps everything else. Without that, it doesn't matter what you write or how long you have worked on it.