it’s too much

I’ve been having one of those weeks with the writing.

It’s been a struggle to cough up more than a couple hundred words a day, not because inspiration is lacking but because I can’t complete a thought without having to put in placeholders for something I haven’t researched yet:

…the large table in the center of the room. It groaned with food, [what kind? how much?]

or

He shifted to and fro in an attempt to keep his blood flowing. “Besides it’s cold as [16th c. equivalent of “a witch’s tit”]-“

or

Approaching the throne, Jane dropped a low curtsey [how does one correctly greet the Queen?]

And so forth. These pauses not only derail my thinking but illustrate the gaps in my knowledge that I need to place the story in a concrete-feeling time and place. This doesn’t include the list of general questions I need to answer before I know if some of my plot points are even possible.

Currently I have over 80 sources but it still doesn’t seem like enough; my fear of anachronism looms large but I don’t want to put off my narrative ideas until the research is complete (opinions on how much research to do pre-writing differ).

Even so, this often feels like too big of a project to face, as though there are too many details and dependencies to get my head around to do the story justice, and the temptation to just quit is great. But that’s not how books get written so I press on, trying to break it into manageable pieces and keeping my […] in to address in the next draft.

I’m also giving Scrivener a whirl to try to impose some order on this beast. Currently the book is in a series of Word files in a single folder on my desktop, none titled clearly enough to know their content or sequence. Hopefully this will also help with the dreaded outlining.

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short circuit

I am easily distracted. There, I said it.

This is a big problem when I’m trying to buckle down and produce prose because writing is such a motionless, solitary activity that almost anything becomes more appealing if the muse doesn’t strike instantly: getting a drink, tidying my workspace, surfing the internet…

Ah yes, the internet. It’s a fantastic research tool but also a diabolical time suck that people made of sterner stuff might be able to tune out, but given the opportunity I will click through useful information to trivial amusing junk Every. Damn. Time.

The solution is obviously to turn it off, and working away from my local wireless does help but I like the convenience of working from home. By sheer luck I was reading an interview with author Malinda Lo in which she revealed that she had the same problem and provided her solution for it.

Mac Freedom is a tidy little app that does only one thing: it cuts off internet access without having to cut the connection, in time intervals up to 8 hours. No web, and no email notifications either.

I’ve been using it all week and was finally able to get a difficult scene written because I turned off interference. This isn’t an ad – I’m just a satisfied customer.

What’s your worse writing distraction, and how do you handle it?