Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Do you Suffer from Squirrel Triggers?


Writer's MindI think I’ve mentioned to you before that I’m a little on the ADD side. Distract-able doesn’t come close to the correct description of me! I’ve come to use the term Squirrel-triggered.

Never seeing the movie “UP,” I did catch the previews with the dog who had a talking mechanism attached to his collar. He’d be talking along and suddenly spin shouting, “Squirrel.” That word has become the call of my family when I start down rabbit trails or bring up a topic in a mid-conversation that I was having in my brain.

(Love the looks that my husband gives me when I do that. I halfway want to try to convince him that he blacked out or something.)

Anyway, did I mention that my writing was interrupted the other day by a shadow on the trellis of our back porch? An actual squirrel. And yes, it took probably twenty to thirty minutes for me to get back to my writing.

Distraction isn’t all bad, though. I never miss the movements of animals at the side of the road, even in the dark. I can read aboutsquirrel every billboard as I’m driving down the freeway. (Remembering them is a different matter altogether.) Oh, and the story ideas that float in with the changing wind. Or the funny one-liners I can pop off because my mind works in odd twists. Priceless.

Truth be known, I don’t mind my ADD. Except when I’m attacking a project. Then it gets tedious. Every sound, discussions going on in other rooms, construction noises from outside, my dog giving himself a bath. (Ick) But the worst things are the tones on my phone and the alerts on my computer.

Ack. Stop!

The computer is bad enough. I’ll need to do a little research – the name of a restaurant, road number, or how to spell a foreign word. But when I get on with my 9-15 tabs, I flip through each of them. Post on Facebook. Retweet something. Hit a link and visit an Instagram pic or a blog post. Share it on Facebook. Check me emails. Answer the newest, most pressing catastrophe …

You get the picture. And I’m not exaggerating one iota. Pretty soon, I’m wading through my open tabs trying to remember which internet site I was on to start with. Oh, yeah. It was a document. And I forgot to start the search page I needed in the first place.

But I’ve come up with a few tricks for me while I’m working. Maybe, they’ll work for you as well?

  • Turn off the computer sound. If I don’t hear the tones shouting new comments or messages on Facebook, then I won’t be enticed to visit there.
  • Phone too! Even if mine is in the other room, I can make out the rings that tell me I have a new email or message. So I turn the sound down and give it to a daughter in case I get an actual call. (I don’t know about you, but they seem to be rarer and rarer for me! Calls, not daughters! LOL!)
  • My internet is always active and always multi-tabbed. (Right now, I have 15 open) But that’s the way my out-of-sight-out-of-mind brain works. If I close tabs that I’m interested in—like suggested dresses for my daughter, or the flower-making tutorial, or the shower invitation that I am bound to blow off even though the date is on my calendar—I’ll forget about them. So I minimize the whole kit-n-kaboodle and open only one window at a time for the writing things that I need.
  • Music distracts me, even orchestrations or movie soundtracks. So I turn on a recorded rain shower from an app on my iPad and use ear buds to eliminate other sounds. Works GREAT!
  • And the shadow on the porch problem? Well, I moved into a corner of the other room. I can do the windows here if I want, but my little corner is a well-lighted, interior one. No distractions here except for the fan-blade shadows.

Hope my tricks help you if you suffer from Squirrel-triggers.

Your turn: What’s your favorite squirrel trigger? (Mine is my girls singing together, but it’s also the most deadly to me getting any work done. I always want to join them.)

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a recently "graduated" homeschooling mom whose twin girls have blessed her by sticking around the nest for a little longer. She spends her days directing the children’s music program at her church and working with the authors of Write Integrity Press to put out the best possible version of their books. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

5 thoughts on “Do you Suffer from Squirrel Triggers?

  1. Oh wow, Marji, you just described me to the letter! (Is it a creative mind thing????) My kids look at my tabs and say, “Wow.” (Now I’m up to multiple tabs in more than one browser–help!)

    Seems no one gets that writers are actually in the middle of their process–people just show up and start talking. A stay-at-home writer-mom I know says she puts on a red cap when she’s in writer mode. It’s the signal to not to mom b/c she is ‘involved’ at the moment.

    GREAT post. Be well and enjoy the squirrels! Love the coloring of yours–mine are all gray with no brown at all.


    • Oh! I’ve seen an all gray one before. But ours are usually multicolored.

      I know what you mean about folks not getting us. I think most believe writers to be hobbyists unless you’re a duplicate of Castle or Jessica Fletcher.


  2. Hate to say, but getting published didn’t work for me when it came to interruptions. Even last night, as I worked in my new corner, dear son and sweet hubby started in on a conversation about electricity rates right next to me. Really? Can’t you see I’m composing excellence over here?

    Seriously, the best thing I did, while I was able, was to take over an empty bedroom as an office so I could close the door. Unless there was dire need, no one messed with Momma’s closed door. Bwahahahaha.

    Sure do wish I still had that door!


    • My writing space is in my bedroom. I can close the door and still get interrupted. I think I’m going to find a sign to hang up when I’m in the middle of a session.


  3. I don’t mind music while I write, but it can’t have words. When someone is singing I have to join in. I also have a problem with people interrupting me. For some reason they don’t believe that my writing is a high priority. Ah well. Maybe, if I get published, they’ll take a different position.