Distraction, Or the Fort of Doom

I could tell you about the time that I snuck into the real Fangorn Forest, or that time that I accidentally sat on a Maori sacred statue…the time I got lost in Paris…but here’s the thing.  I’m kind of stuck.

Truth time: I’m sitting in the middle of a book fort as I write this.  The walls are so tall that every time I move, it leans ominously inwards.  I admit, it’s quite a strange predicament to be in on a Friday morning that was meant to be a productive writing session!  It started out as a small tower—a place to put books as I organized the bookshelf—a good, productive journey on the road to cleanliness and order.  The more the tower grew, the more curious I became about how tall it could get.  I expanded it to make a wall…a few turrets…you know the story.  By the time I was putting the roof on the last tower it was too late—I was swept up into a wind tunnel of distraction.

The Fort of Doom

Distraction: it’s a serious problem even if you don’t wind up mired in book fort madness. A symphony of chirps and cell-phone buzzes drags me back into the real world far too often and the siren call of the full inbox never seems to get any less enticing.

So how do you avoid distraction?

I read once that there are two types of procrastination—the good kind that lets your story percolate until it is ready…and the bad kind that I suspect might involve building book forts, watching reruns of Friends, painting the dog’s toenails…just to avoid the fear that comes with not writing perfectly.

Just in case you are in the same place I am, here are some ways to extricate yourself from the fort of doom:

1. Selective focus-give all your attention to what you are working on right now…then move on to the next task.

2. Build in breaks so you don’t snap.

3. Nix the phone, shut the door, put the headphones on

4. Ignore the perilous email ding—remember that like all sirens, it wants to lure you out into the waters of distraction and pull you under.

5. Relax.  The ideas are in there somewhere.  Trust that they will come with or without a snazzy book fort.

A funny thing happened when I began typing furiously, determined to warn others about the fort of doom–it started to wobble wildly, tilting this way and that. I was too distracted to care, though–the good kind of distraction! Before I knew it…

on the floor...

The fort of doom was just another pile of books on the floor. Take what you will from my temporary insanity, but I’ve decided that sometimes you just have to put distraction in its place and see where your imagination can take you.

How do you thwart distraction?


  1. Book forts are the best.
    At home, it is nearly impossible to avoid distraction. However, I have a long commute via public bus, and so put on a pair of headphones, don’t turn on wi-fi, and focus on writing. I get a lot done that way.

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