When my fingers are flying over the keyboard, it’s easy to ignore dust bunnies, cobwebs and mountains of laundry. But when The Girls (aka my writing muse) take a vacation, and I find myself staring at a blank screen, there’s not a dust bunny or cobweb to be found. My windows sparkle, my floors shine, the furniture is polished, laundry baskets are empty, the cupboards are full and the dogs even get brushed and bathed. If The Girls are gone too long, I’m prone to start rearranging furniture and redecorating the house.

I wonder if The Girls get disgusted with my slovenly ways and disappear on purpose!

In truth, I’m easily distracted and as a result my house stays pretty darn clean. Okay, and if I’m being honest it’s just me, my husband and a couple of dogs, so there’s not a lot of cleaning required. Alright, already – yes, I have a cleaning service come in once a week, so I don’t have to tackle the heavy cleaning, but these dogs are champion shedders! Fine, fine, yes I have a robot vacuum cleaner. My point here is that even menial tasks like sweeping are preferable over staring at a blank screen.

Disorganization distracts me even when the words are flowing smoothly. A cluttered office is a dead giveaway that I’m not writing. Since I moved in April, my office décor consists of utility shelving and wall-to-wall boxes – talk about clutter! For me, clutter crushes creativity. As a consequence, I recently received my second Ice Bucket Dunking.

When I’m not even pretending to be a writer and ignore the work-in-progress for long periods of time, depression comes for a visit and out come the black yoga pants. Personal hygiene can get pretty lax, too. On top of the moving related clutter, my computer froze recently. It was at the repair shop almost three weeks because a stupid virus was so well cloaked it took them that long to identify the nasty sucker. Back when this computer was new, I was a few hours late renewing the free anti-virus subscription that came pre-loaded. That few hours was long enough for a virus to worm its way into my world and wreak havoc.

As it turns out, that damn virus was actually a blessing in disguise. With the computer out of the house for that length of time, it allowed me to focus my efforts on wresting control of my clutter. I’m a long way from finished, but at least my office is functional. Which means, I no longer have an excuse to avoid my manuscript. Well, I no longer have THAT excuse … If there was an Olympic competition for Writing Procrastination, I’m pretty sure I would take home the gold.

For now, the computer is home and working great, the yoga pants are folded away, I’m taking daily showers and wearing pink.

Terri Rich

Terri Richison (writing as Terri Rich) lives in Clear Lake City, TX with her husband and a giant Great Dane (giant even by Great Dane standards). She is working on self-publishing women’s fiction and avoiding getting a pie in the face if she doesn’t produce pages for every critique session! PIES OR PAGES! Terri started telling stories almost as soon as she could talk – she learned everything she needed to know about storytelling at her grandmother’s knee. Craft however, is something she is still learning – those damn commas give me nightmares!


  1. So yeah, the distraction bug hits me, too, from time to time. That’s why I find weekly critique group and ultimately the WoC challenges so beneficial. When I find myself saying, “I really don’t want to sit at the keyboard.” my other side responds, “Wednesday is only two days away. Don’t wanna look like putz to the group, do you?” Accountability is a double edged sword.

  2. I think avoiding things we’re not super jazzed about is a universal issue. As writers, though, we have to develop strategies to write even when the girls desert us and we’re force to trudge through on our own. Not that I’m even CLOSE to figuring out how to do this.

    So, yes, Lorinda, critique group is a great motivator, but friends who come over and say, “Hey, girl. When was the last time you showered? And uh, are those the same yoga pants you were wearing last week?” are even better motivators.

    Now, I’m off to tackle my latest project.


    1. Egads! It was bad enough smelling your stank-ass through the computer. Are you saying I actually have to get closer – like within touching distance? I demand hazard pay!

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