Welcome to another edition of Writerly Wednesday. This week TB shares about distraction and how most writers have to battle to stay focused on the words.
Even Mark Twain Struggled
When you write for a living, or even as a side hustle, it’s hard to keep at it consistently. I’m the type of writer who puts words down every single day. I’m not a fast writer, though, and I average between 600 to 2500 words. To be honest, 2500-word days don’t happen often. Occasionally, if there’s a huge deadline pressing down on me, I’ve been known to bash out 5-7k in 24 hours. I really try to avoid that because it makes writing such a slog, and zaps all enjoyment.
Saying that, it’s still hard to stop my mind from wandering. These days, there are distractions galore and I have to keep my office pretty bland to avoid getting up and doing something, anything else.
A few years ago, when I visited Mark Twain’s house in Hartford, Connecticut, I was stunned when I entered his writing space because there was a pool table in the room. Before the guide said anything about the table, I thought to myself, “I would just play pool all day.” It would probably help my abilities, because I’m terrible at pool, but it would kill my writing output.
As the guide shared many interesting tidbits, including what books Twain had breathed life into in that very room, I kept sneaking a peek at the pool table, wondering how he’d been so disciplined.
Before we left the room, the guide pointed out the pool table and then explained Twain would scatter papers on it to avoid getting out of his chair to play. The thought of cleaning the space to play was too much for him. He also positioned his desk so that he faced a blank wall instead of one of the many windows in the room.
Honestly, I felt so much better after hearing this. Mark Twain was a prolific writer, but even he had to battle what every human being has to: wanting playtime over work.
I wasn’t able to take photos inside the house, but here are some from outside.
Thanks for reading!