So today, when I thought I'd have the house all to myself, I am -- of course -- waiting for a phone call because of a repair gone slightly awry. That's right up there with waiting for a repairman for disturbing my concentration. But it's got me thinking about distractions.*
I don't work in four-five hour stretches when I'm writing the first draft. I don't work more than about two hours at a time, with two hour breaks, because first drafts take a lot of mental effort. Every scene, every paragraph is full of decisions -- do this, and that could happen. Do that and it could go that way. That's very mentally exhausting. So for me, the breaks are necessary.
But here's the key thing: I like to break when it's good for me. If I'm in those two-hour working periods, a forced break due to an interruption is extremely frustrating, because my train of thought -- where the most recent decisions were taking the story -- has been broken. It can take awhile to get back onto that path.
So if I distract myself (and I do!), that's okay, because I'm choosing the time. Somebody else "chooses" the time? Not good.
* I just got the call I was expecting, so now I can work without that little distraction bothering the brain.