Born A Ramblin’ Man: Working Through Interruptions

Take me to your leader!

Robot armies can be useful scheduling tools. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is an undeniable truth of life: keeping a schedule is like herding cats. Technically possible, but never easy. Writing schedules are great in the beginning, when you’re deep in the trenches of Getting Shit Done, but the honeymoon phase never lasts. Sooner or later, a disruption* comes along, and you’re off the rails, usually right in the middle of whatever you were doing. If you’re lucky, you get back on track when the disruption has passed. If you’re not, then you might be sidelined for months, or never finish that project at all.

So, you can hide in a bunker in a futile attempt to avoid distractions, or you can work with it. With a little work and a lot of stubbornness, you can keep it on track, or at least never get too far off. Here’s a few options for the constantly interrupted:

1. Plan ahead. If you know your best mate is coming in for the weekend and you’re going to be tits deep in a bottle of red for most of that time, do the writing before. You might have to finagle things a little, jiggle some schedule-y bits around, but it’s usually workable. Break it up over the week before, and you can get it done. Case in point: I’m on a five-day trip right now. I wrote this on Tuesday and set it up on the WordPress site to automatically post when I wanted it to. That’s right: THIS WAS POSTED BY ROBOTS. Try not to let that bother you too much. Or by the fact that I now have robots at my beck and call.

2. Work on the road. Or on the beach. Or the wedding reception. Or the doctor’s office. Whatever your particular distraction, there a very few places these days where one cannot get writing done. Take your laptop if you’ve got one; try writing on your smart phone if you don’t; and if neither is available, try the hotel computer or that of a friend.
Hell, if you’re not obsessively posting your brain squeezings to the internet**, then you don’t even need a computer. Take a notebook and a pen and write like your grandfather did: on a beach in the Dominican while shirtless waiters bring drinks.*** Just don’t tip with poems.

3. Let it go. Sometimes life truly fucking gets in the way, and you miss a day or a week or a month. Illness, work insanity, sudden deportation for illegally importing iguanas in your pants…interruptions happen. If there is genuinely**** nothing you can do about it, then let it go. For now. And that’s the condition here: for now. Make a plan about when you’ll get back, and then make sure you do get back. After a month or two away, or even longer, getting back in that saddle will hurt, but if you know that going in, you’re much less likely to wuss out and back off. Let the writing callouses fade from your finger tips? Earn ‘em back, one word at a time.

So, when you’re packing for that trip or doctor’s appointment, leave the excuses at home. You’ll travel lighter.

*In the case of cats, often a piece of string. In the case of people, often other people. Though the string can also be fun.
**Unlike some people I could mention.
***If your grandfather really did this, then he’s awesome.
****This is the key word here, folks. Be honest about if you can’t do it, or if you just won’t. You know when you’re lying. So will I. And, of the two of us, I’d say I’m scarier.

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