Lights Out

When I sit down to write, I become Hammie the Squirrel.

OOH SHINY!

OOH SHINY!

Everything is more interesting than starting the project. “What’s on Facebook? I should check my mail on Lord of the Rings Online. I probably am due for a weekly gift. Which episode of Everybody Loves Raymond is my wife watching? Oh, that one? There’s a hilarious scene coming up I don’t want to miss. What’s going on in the world, CNN?”

I picked up an idea from a blog recently. The writer suggested typing blindfolded as a means to eliminate distractions.

I play piano very well. I can close my eyes and play songs I know by heart, because my hands are used to the muscle movements required to hit the right notes. Could it be the same with the keyboard?

Of course it could. If you’ve taken classical typing courses, with the ASDF JKL-Sem method, you probably already know how to type without looking at the keys or perhaps even the screen. If you’re like me, with no formal typing training but a lot of practice sitting at a computer expressing thoughts, you still might have a system for typing that allows you to do so with eyes closed.

I decided to try this method. Last night, sitting on my bed, I threw my fleece blanket over my head, popped some Lindsey Stirling into my iPod earbuds, and took one last glance to see what keys my fingers were resting on.

Within minutes I had pumped out 400 words with few errors, and an eagerness to keep going. I took a short break, and started again. I finished a 1200 word section of my current novel with no real issues or errors.

What about editing? I have to edit anyway, so if I can silence the editor’s voice while trying to simply write, even better.

The one drawback came close to the end of my effort, since I started around midnight. (Can’t help it. Strike when the iron is hot.) I am a coffeeholic, and a sleep-deprivation criminal. Four hours a night is doing good for me. (It’s not good for me, but it’s doing better than some nights when I get carried away with my various distractions.)

Even with the awesome beat behind Lindsey’s violin, the music kept trying to carry me off into dreams. Sitting on my bed in the comfort of the blanket probably contributed to that as well.

I nonetheless gave the piece a quick edit, read it to my wife, and enjoyed her positive reaction.

Considering I spent about two hours sitting in front of my computer earlier that evening, alternating between pointless Internet browsing and drowsy head-nodding, I counted this venture as a success.

Have you heard of this, or tried this before?

What are some of the ways you mitigate the power of distractions to your writing?

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