Writing with distraction.

I tried an experiment today to work on creative writing with distraction. In particular, I worked on editing a recent short story while the T.V. was on. I didn’t intend on trying this today but I got a DVD from Netflix in the mail. I figured that I didn’t care too much about word count today as I knew I wanted to work on either editing or outlining the newest story that I’ve been working on. The DVD was of an old T.V. show that I thought I would watch in pieces in my free time. My intent was that putting in the place that I did in my Netflix DVD queue I would be able to get a more “serious” movie this weekend when I had more time to sit down and watch it.

The only way that I could do that, however, was if I watched the whole DVD today and put it in the mail tomorrow. So I decided to try my experiment. It was a success in that I proved to myself that I couldn’t be as productive as I am normally. I already knew that, really. It could have been a way to justify to myself to work while watching T.V. I have no intent on doing it again. I’ve written about writing with distraction before. Working in a coffee shop is not the same, though. There the noise becomes part of the ambience. It doesn’t demand my attention whereas a piece of visual fiction of my chosing does.

I can’t say that it was a total loss. I did get some work done. It probably wasn’t the best story to edit today. It’s a very dark mood piece. Next time I work on it I have to make sure that I at least put on some music in the background to match. That I can write on top of. It sets the mood instead of clashing with it. I was able to clean up some sentences anyway and did have one decent new idea that I think will really add to the piece.

The main character goes through a series of near-flashbacks to a traumatic point in her life. I say “near-flashbacks” because they don’t fully represent what happened, but one of the strongest images that does come back is the dress that she wore on the night in question. When I first introduce the dress she’s thrown off by the fact that she’s suddenly wearing it. The surprise is driven home by the fact that she clearly remembers burning it. That gave me the idea that it in fact burns her skin whenever she’s wearing it. The “flashbacks” go further back in the evening every time she gets them, until she gets to the specific point in the evening at which the painful event happens. My idea is to have the burning sensation get stronger with each instance.

So, while I may have not gotten a lot done in quantity I did make some significant progress to the progression of the story. Yet I’m not going to try distracting myself next time. There was one passage in particular in which one character is wearing a sleeveless long coat and black velvet sleeves from the top he was wearing underneath it were visible. I spent way too long on figuring out how to say it. I’m still not sure I got it right. The distraction wasn’t helping. Now I know. And knowing is half the… oh, nevermind. I think I was just influenced by the show I’ve been watching all evening.

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One thought on “Writing with distraction.

  1. You sound more productive than me distracted. I have to listen to film scores while I write but I cannot watch TV while writing. I was watching TV as I read this post and that was enough distraction. Sometimes, however, if I’m in public, I will turn my music down with my ear buds in and listen to the people around me. You can get good story material from listening to other people 🙂

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