It’s not the external but the internal noise that leads to distracted writing.
It’s not writer’s block, because I’m still writing. The problem is that I’ve taken on all these projects and I jump from one to the other. I’m having trouble working on the new novel and instead work on the blogs and social network posts and trivial real life things like looking for a job.
It’s easy to prioritize the small stuff because it’s doable. This blog post I’m writing now will be done within the hour. The ability to finish something is attractive. It satisfies my creative need and allows me to move on.
The novel on the other hand is not finishable. Yes someday it will be done, but that someday is a long way away. Months of work are ahead of me. I’m not complaining about the effort because I love getting lost in the creation of a story and its world. The problem is how do I put aside the little projects that satisfy my need for closure.
I come back again to my Puritan work ethic. Writing is what I do for fun, so it’s seen as something to do when work is done. In the back of my head work is more important than play. I don’t seem to fully believe that just because I enjoy something doesn’t mean it isn’t work.
I’ve started a dialog with my inner critics on this subject, but haven’t found the right one yet. It turns out that I have several inner critics, not just one. Each one has a different set of roles and concerns. I used to just try to ignore these critics but I’m learning to listen to them and work out compromises that are mutually beneficial.
The problem is that distracted writing is caused by several distinct critics. The perfectionist, the guilt-tripper, the gratification-seeker, the approval-seeker and other yet-defined voices are at play here. Satisfying all of them may be difficult.