Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Writing Through Interruptions

Sometimes you can't find those large chunks of writing time, or maybe your office is in the middle of the your home's flight path with little ones (or maybe an occasional big one) soaring through your space. How do you find those minutes to be creative and accomplish your daily word goal? I asked Darlene Franklin:

"You're in a living situation in which interruptions are constant. What is one way in which you maintain your concentration in order to fulfill contracted deadlines?" - Sandy

Darlene: I work in small increments. That’s the key.

For instance, last week I aimed to write 2,000 words a day. That many words will take me at least two hours—two hours I am unlikely to remain uninterrupted.

So I take those 2,000 words and break them into four 500-word segments. I plan to take a break after each 500 words, to go to my second goal for the day (proofing 32 pages of a final galley proof. I also break that into segments, of course.

I break those 500 words down further. Depending on how distracted I feel, or how many interruptions I expect, I write 500 words in 2-3 increments. I can usually write 200-300 words without interruption; but if times are bad, I’ll go down to 150 words if I have to.

Writing 2,000 can seem overwhelming. Writing 150 words doesn’t threaten me at all.

I keep track of those small achievements on a spreadsheet. 169 words written; 1831 left to go. 374 words written; 1626 left to write. Soon I’ve reached the halfway point, and the numbers left to write go down.

That way, when I’m interrupted for a meeting, or someone needs to speak to me, or I have to respond to an email, I just pick up where I left off. Okay, so I didn’t write 150 words, but only 134. I’ll just make my next two goals (to reach 500 words) a little bigger.

If I could plan on 500 words in half an hour, or a thousand words in an hour, I might do more writing—but breaking it down means I meet my goals and my deadlines.


Award-winning author and speaker Darlene Franklin lives in cowboy country--Oklahoma. Oklahoma has the benefit of being the home to her son, his wife, and their four beautiful children. Darlene loves music, needlework, reading and reality TV. She currently resides in a nursing home, which has become a place of blessing. Connect with her on her blog:

If you're a slow writer like me, it can take all day to make a word count goal. What have you found to be helpful in meeting your goals when chaos reigns around you? Have you tried Darlene's method of using a number of small goals - eating that elephant one chunk at a time?