Writing and avoiding distractions.

As an old-time gamer, and one who even designed them professionally, I’ve always been easily lured into a good game.  Some of them are mere distractions, things you can play and put down anytime you want, then there are others that compel you to play for 8 hours straight.  Sid Meier’s “Civilization” series coined the infamous term, “Just one more turn…” because that turn would inevitably turn into another 100 turns and you’d realize the sun was coming up the next day.

My wife managed to help get me hooked on Candy Crush, this little mobile game that has addicted many people on its

【APP遊戲】Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga – Should be called Crack Rock Saga – Photo credit: Albert.hsieh)

crunchy goodness.  I’m a gaming veteran, so I know how to pace myself, but the mere fact I’m spending any time on it makes me feel unproductive.  You see, back in late 2009, I had an epiphany of sorts.  The economy was a wreck, and I read a controversial book by Michael Ruppert called “Crossing the Rubicon” that made me realize the world outside had become a far scarier place than anyone could envision.  I almost immediately stopped playing games.  I wanted to be productive, and I wrote “The Case for a New America“.

There are millions of people, my age in particular, who have put in thousands of hours worth of gaming.  Nearly all have nothing to show for it.  Nothing worth value in the real world, anyway.  Sure, some games are educational.  Some gamer’s get into gaming professionally and make money at it (I did for 3 years), but otherwise, if you counted ALL of the hours wasted on these distractions and envision what those same people could have done with that time…productively…the world would literally be a different place right now.

There would be far more successful people out there if those tens of thousands of hours had been invested into something that actually had a return on investment.  Imagine spending even 100 hours learning guitar, a trade skill, writing, programming…anything that could reap a personal and financial benefit, and the idea becomes shocking.

There is nothing inherently wrong with playing games, or watching TV, or doing any leisurely thing that helps you relax or entertains you.  We all need those distractions.  It’s when they replace the time you could be using to better yourself, or others, is when it becomes a problem.  It’s mental masturbation on a massive scale.

When I’m playing Candy Crush, I can’t help but think that even the 10 minutes I invest in it I could have been reading some historical text or working out the plot to my book.  I’ve put myself behind, and delay something I should be finishing so I can start earning royalties on the book and start my next one.  Instead, I’m spending time playing something that some other person labored for hours to create and make a ton of money off of.

Being an author, in particular, opens all sorts of doors for distractions merely because we are constantly at a computer with easy access to every distraction imaginable.  Enjoy your free time, play some Candy Crush, but make sure the majority of your time is still spent doing what you know you need to be doing…writing more books!

What are some of your favorite distractions?



  1. Maddie Cochere

    Hi Tim. You mentioned your blog in the Writer’s Cafe, and I’ve been over here for a while reading. Very nice blog. I’m a gamer from way back, too. I don’t play Candy Crush, but I do play a marble-popper PC game before every writing session. I might play for ten minutes up to as much as half an hour. I find the time “activates” my mind. It cuts through any sluggishness I’ve been feeling, and when I win the round (as I always do), I feel good. I’ve noticed a remarkable difference in how I settle into my writing when I play a game first – and when I don’t. Good advice though! I wouldn’t want to just dally away my day with games when I could be writing.

    • Tim Scott

      Hi Maddie! Thanks for checking out the blog. 🙂 I didn’t really think about it that way, in terms of stimulating the mind. I always play these little distractions AFTER I write, so maybe I should give a 15 minute round to Candy Crush next time before opening up Word.

      Here I complain about games wasting my time when, in reality, it’s the internet that distracts me when I’m actually trying to write! 🙂 Still need to figure out how to deal with that… 😉

      • Maddie Cochere

        Tim, did you read the KB thread about the guy who wrote his 50,000 NaNoWriMo book in one day? He wrote for 50 or 55 minutes and then took a break. With every break he made the social media rounds to update everyone on his progress.

        I think I’ve inadvertently come to use some of the same technique. I find myself writing for an hour and then taking a break to get up, walk around, and make a quick swing through social media. I come back to writing with “fresh eyes” and a clearer mind. It may sound silly, but I find I have more angst and difficulty writing if I cut myself off from the internet for six to eight hours at a time. By checking in, I’m up on whatever is going on, and I don’t have the internet constantly on my mind when I’m writing – which I’ve dealt with before.

        Congratulations on your new release. When I was reading here last night, I didn’t realize just how new it was. I grabbed a copy! I’ll try to read it soon to help you with reviews. I know how hard it is to get them in the beginning.

      • Tim Scott

        Thank you Maddie! Yes, it’s very new and suffering from a lack of exposure. Sadness. BUT, I learned it takes time as it did with my last book. So, I’m patient. 🙂 And really, thank you for buying it and offering to do a review! Those first ones are tough to get.

        I’m going to find that thread about the NaNoWriMo guy. 50k words in a day? Whatever happened with his book? Did he type, “All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy” over and over? lol. That’s definitely a marathon. But as you mention, I think the important aspect was being disciplined and knowing when and how many breaks to take. I actually think that would help me, knowing I can’t touch the internet for another x amount of minutes.

        And no, it doesn’t sound silly about having a sort of internet “withdrawal”. It was the same for me with gaming. I remember one time when I went camping, it took a good two full days before I could clear my head and enjoy myself. Thanks again for the tips and input Maddie! 🙂

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