Writers Get Distracted


One of the writers in my group posed this question: have you ever been so wrapped up in your writing while you’re driving that you missed your exit?  The answer is “yes.”  As a matter of fact, I think writers are some of the most easily distracted people on the planet.  Once we’ve started writing, whether we’re in front of a keyboard or at a stoplight, it’s hard to pull ourselves out of that.

I have driven on “autopilot.”  Not just a few hundred feet, but miles.  One minute, my attention’s on the road, the next thing I know, I’m at my destination and have no memory of the trip.  I think the worst was a trip to St. Louis.  Sometime around Kingdom City (about 30 miles from my house), I entered the “writer’s world” and when I exited for Grand Avenue, I suddenly realized I was in St. Louis (this is roughly a 2 hour drive).

We also talk to ourselves.  These conversations are not always in our head.  I didn’t realize I did it until I went on a road trip with a friend.  We left at the same time, but I was planning to come home a day earlier, so we took separate cars.  She actually video taped me sitting at a stoplight having a conversation with myself.  Since then, I’ve occasionally started talking and realized the people in the cars next to me are staring at me.

This isn’t limited to car rides, although it is fairly common, it’s a great place to think.  However, I’ve found myself talking out loud at home.  I was doing dishes one evening and realized that I had an entire conversation between characters while I worked.  Dishes got done!  I also talk to myself in the shower, folding laundry, and vacuuming.  Household chores when you’re home alone is a great place to work out ideas and occasionally, the thoughts are out loud.

The other thing, I can be in the middle of a conversation and if it sparks an idea, I won’t finish my sentence.  At least, not the sentence that sparked the idea.  Sometimes, I just become very silent as the ideas buzz through my brain.  Sometimes, I start talking about the idea.

By the way, I don’t know if “autopilot” driving is dangerous.  So far, I’ve never had an accident during it.  It can be a pain in the ass.  Yes, I’ve missed an exit.  Yes, I’ve had to turn around because I forgot where I was going.  And I’ve arrived at my destination without my stuff because my mind was on writing and I didn’t remember along the way.

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1 Comment

  1. Maria D.

     /  September 8, 2014

    I’m not a writer but this happens to me a lot….I’ve arrived at work without even realizing I got in the car and drove there, I’ve driven to the wrong place because my mind was on something else and I have conversations with myself while cleaning house, doing laundry and driving too…plus I’ll admit to being a “head bopper’ when i listen to music in the car and dancing in the seat – which is why I’m listening to audio books in the car now…but I also yell at the book while I’m listening and driving when the characters do something I don’t want them to do (don’t open the door!,

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