I’ve been really distracted this week, doing the thing where I stare at the screen and am a million miles away even though I know what I want to write next. Random things pop into my head, and I find myself following mental rabbit trails. I know part of it is because I have a lot of stuff to think about right now, like getting ready for a big Thanksgiving trip and making decisions about where I may spend the rest of my life and whether to move halfway across the country. But mostly, this sort of thing happens when my brain knows that the thing I’m planning to write is all wrong and I need to figure out the right thing.

And that turned out to be the case. I was stuck on a scene I had planned. I had it all outlined, had seen the “movie” in my head, and yet I couldn’t seem to make myself write it. Every time I sat down to try to write it, my brain would get distracted by random things and I couldn’t focus. Last night, I gave up and sat down with a pen and paper to see if I could outline the rest of the book and add more detail to that scene so it would be easy to write. That was when I realized that the scene doesn’t belong in the book at all. Not only does it not really add anything to the story, but it would change things for the next part I had planned, and that was why I was having trouble outlining that part.

The writing went a lot easier this morning when my brain agreed with me that I was on the right track. I should make a note of that. If I can’t seem to focus, if my brain wants to do absolutely anything but write, I need to look at what I’m planning to write and see if it really belongs in the book. Sometimes, I feel like my brain tries to get me out of the way so it can work things out without my conscious interference. It’ll send me searching for recipes for some dish I had once and have a sudden craving for or looking up books in the library’s collection or other kinds of busy work that suddenly seems urgent, and when that’s done and I get back to writing, I suddenly know exactly what I need to do.

So, next time I’m feeling scattered, I can tell myself that maybe this is part of the process. Though sometimes I do suspect that I’m just being scattered.

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