Monday, May 7, 2012

Since I’m in the midst of a deadline this week, have a new release I’m promoting (THE MARINE NEXT DOOR) and the AC broke in the 90+ heat this weekend (ugh!) and I'm waiting for the repairman, I'm going to just blog a list today.  But I hope you'll add to it or share other questions or comments.

One thing that the deadline pressure does to me is that it makes me particularly vulnerable to being distracted by what I call “shiny objects”.  When my brain is really focusing on accomplishing a certain task, I can get a lot done in a short amount of time.  However, my brain cells and body do have their limits, and when I start pushing too hard for too long, my subconscious mind tries to divert my attention.  Usually, it just means I need to take a break.  But sometimes, it’s because writing a book is hard work—a lot of worthwhile things in life are hard work—and, well, when things are that challenging, I don’t always want to do them.

So, in no particular order, here are 20 shiny objects that have distracted me recently.

1.  The next story on my agenda to write.  It’s not due until July, but I’ve already got a good start, and those characters are really talking to me. (The grass is always greener on the next project, eh?)

2.  Sampling new flavors of tea.  Mom introduced me to acai berry/blueberry green tea. I’m loving it. 

3.  Going to the window to see what the dog is barking at.  Spring brings lots of squirrels, rabbits, and meter readers into the yard, and Maggie keeps track of all of them.

4.  Brushing the dog.  Apparently, Maggie got into some stickers and dead leaves while on morning patrol, and her curly hair is like Velcro.

5.  Ordering those slats you put under the cushions of a sagging piece of furniture so that a sumo wrestler can sit on them.  Been wanting to do that for a while.

6.  Looking at the shiny silver charm my writers’ group (Prairieland Romance Writers) gave me for selling my 50th book.  Think about how fortunate I am to have such good friends.

7.  Flipping through a jewelry catalog to find a new charm bracelet.

8.  Deciding whether to have baby Swiss cheese or mozzarella cheese sticks with my lunch.   Maybe I’ll eat the leftover pasta, instead.

9.  Rearranging the photographs on the piano now that I’ve added a new one of my son from his trip to Rome.  (I’m looking at the piano as I’m eating my lunch)

10. Doing the laundry.  This is a chore where I can see big results without nearly as much time and effort as, say, dusting and vacuuming require, so I feel good about accomplishing a task (but I probably don’t need to wash everything in one day).

11. Watching the birds go after the dandelion seeds in my back yard.

12. Let Maggie out back to see her flush 20 or so robins and starlings and mourning doves and chicadees and one plover.

13. Pull up a few dandelions while the ground is soft from recent rains.

14. Move my son home from college.  Spend time deciding where to put all his stuff!

15. Go look at my brand new (awesome!) cover for my August Intrigue on Amazon.

16. Check the sales rank and scout out reviews for my current release, THE MARINE NEXT DOOR, since I’m already on Amazon.

17. Decide I need more Pepsi to complete my major writing job today, so take Maggie for ride to nearby convenience story to get a fountain refill.

18. Re-read through the scene I wrote yesterday and finetune it. Too much narrative—needs more dialogue.

19. Touch my late dad’s glasses case that I keep on my writing desk, and think about how much I miss him and how lucky I was to have had him in my life.

20.  Give myself a stern talk about how I’ve just wasted an entire hour when I need to be writing.  Decide to get Chinese take-out for dinner so I can use that prep time to write longer this evening.

So… What distracts you when you’re under pressure to get a project done?

I’ll give away a signed copy of my brand new release, THE MARINE NEXT DOOR, to one lucky poster.

Here’s to staying focused,
Julie Miller


  1. My major distraction - when I'm at work and the internet beckons and I have reviews to write (like now).

    Wanting to read when I should be writing my own book.

    No need to put me in to win - won it, read it, loved it!! (And lovin' the cover of your August release).


  2. (Wanting to read when I should be writing my own book.)
    That's one for me, to Marcie. If the book is really good, then all I want to do is read. Plus, that voice or plotting gets into my head and slows my writing down even more. And, worse case, it's such a marvelous book that I start to think I'll never write anything as good, so why bother. See how easy it is to get distracted? Look at how my brain jumps from one thing to the next, whether it makes sense or not. ;) (Of course, if the book doesn't suck me in, then I usually put it down and the distraction is over :0)

    Thank you, Marcie! "Loved it!" is an awesome review, imo.

  3. Add to my list of "shiny objects" -- reading Julie's list of distractions. LOL

  4. My biggest distraction is definitely reading anything in my TBR pile when I should be reading (and checking off) anything in my "TO DO" list pile! My TBR pile is so much more fun though! Now that I'm an empty nester (2 1/2 years!) it just doesn't seem so important to do that "TO DO" list as it used to!

  5. I'm a big list-maker, Valri. I find so much satisfaction in crossing something off that I've completed. Plus, I don't have to try to keep everything in my head that I need to remember to do if it's written in front of my face.

    Of course, that all goes down the toilet when I can't find my list. ;)

  6. My nephew is great distraction... LOL, he always wants my attention especially when I am trying to do stuff on the computer. As for myself, reading, spending time on the computer, and playing my fav game are my standard distractions.

    1. Do you babysit, Colleen? Little kids are a wonderful distraction. When I babysit, I don't get much done except spending time with the kids.

  7. My dogs are my biggest distraction. They always find me and make this cute face when they want a treat or to play, which seems the majority of the day, then it leads to a belly rub or a back scratch and then I loose my trend of thought. If I try to close the door they will scratch till I come out. My mom said they don't bother her during the day, so that's what I get for spoiling them.

    1. Dogs can rule the roost, AviJ. I find us planning family activities around the dog sometimes--how long can we be gone? Do we need to ask a friend to come check on her? Do we take her with us? It's like having another child in the house sometimes.

  8. After working all day, I just don't have the energy to do more than read, spend time on the computer and check Facebook. Julie, I can't seem to find my to do list either. :)

    1. Sometimes, Ruth, I get so busy, I write things on sticky notes and stick them on my kitchen cabinets so I'll see them when I fix a meal. It's low-tech, but it works for me. ;)

  9. Nice list. The internet is distracting.

    1. Definitely, bn100. Whether I'm doing business, doing something personal, or just surfing--I can spend a lot of time online if I'm not careful.

  10. Laura AKA Loves 2 Read RomanceMay 7, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    I really like your list. The biggest distraction at work for me is the internet. So in months that I have a ton more work because of payroll taxes I have started renting the Harry Potter books on cd. This way I can listen to the books while working instead of music. Thus I don't go on the internet to change the song I don't like and get distracted. The only bad part is the tears that flow during parts of the books. Don't enter me in the contest I ordered your book and it came in the mail today. I really want to start it but I also got two books for Tell Harlequin so I will have to read those first.

    1. Thanks for ordering the book, Laura! I hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

  11. Love this post, Julie. Do not enter me - I already have this book. But, I do get distracted very easily. Just being on line - I will go on line to do something - then i will check my email - go to eharlequin - play Farmville - check free Kindle books on Amazom. Then I forget why i even went on line.

    1. Tammy--I've gotten off all the games I was playing on FB. Too much of a time suck for me. And I spend enough time there catching up with friends and checking out things I'm interested in.

      That's funny about forgetting why you went online. I've had that happen, too.

  12. And the winner is... Ruth!

    Maggie nosed your name out of the pile of commenters who wanted to be in the drawing.

    Just send me an email with your snail mail addy, and I'll get a copy of THE MARINE NEXT DOOR in the mail to you ASAP.

    Thanks to everyone for stopping by! I'll be back to blog here on the 21st. I hope you'll join me then, too.