Loree Lough

At last count, best-selling author Loree Lough had 75 books, 63 short stories, and over 2,500 articles in print. Dubbed by reviewers “the writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives”, she has earned dozens of “Readers’ Choice” and industry awards. This summer, Beautiful Bandit (#1 in “Lone Star Legends” series from Whitaker) joins Loree’s 2009-10 releases, Love Finds You in Paradise, PA and Love Finds You in North Pole (Summerside), Tales of the Heart and Prevailing Love (Whitaker), and Be Still…and Let Your Nail Polish Dry (Summerside). Maverick Heart (Lone Star Legends #2) comes out in January, 2011, while the release of From Ashes to Honor, #1 in her “First Responders” series (Abingdon), will coordinate with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Accidental Family, #3 in the “Accidental Blessings” series (Love Inspired) and Love Finds You in Folly Beach, SC are slated to hit bookstore shelves May and June, 2011, respectively. Visit Loree at http://wwwloreelough.com.

He said, she said … and “ZEN” what?

It seems that every writer I talk with these days is struggling to meet book deadlines. The enemy?


I once read that distractions are responsible for 80 percent of the wasted time—and lack of productivity—in every office, everywhere, regardless of the profession or industry. No way I believe that. If the number had been 90 percent? Now, that I’d believe.

For me, distractions vary. Some days, it’s big stuff, like making decisions for an ailing mother-in-law in a nursing home, or finding time to visit a hospitalized friend. Or not-so-critical disruptions, such as preparing for an upcoming conference, or ol’ Uncle Barney, who didn’t mention when he called to say “. . . love to see you while I’m in Baltimore!” that he’d booked a one-way ticket from Lalaland.

Other times, it’s small stuff, like a raging sinus infection, or the books in my teetering “To Be Read” pile. Birds twittering outside my office window, or the neighbors, doing god-knows-what with their trash cans (again!) on the other side of my office wall. The scent of freshly-nuked popcorn wafting from the kitchen, or memory of those chocolate-covered raisins hidden way in the back of . . . oops! Didn’t mean to let that cat out of the bag!

What distracts me isn’t as, well, distracting as how the distractions chisel away at every minute that makes up my work day. Each nanosecond spent in Distracted Mode is one less I’m spending on my WIP . . . and one farther from getting it turned in by deadline.

I’ve never been the meditative type, so when people say things like “Zen” and “Yoga” and “meditate,” my eyes glaze over. I don’t listen to music or watch TV while working, so well-intentioned suggestions such as “Wear earplugs” or “Put on a headset” goes (I apologize in advance for the pun) in one ear and out the other.

“Go for a walk” or “Try working in a different room, for a change of scenery” might work for other writers, but I need to be here, where I have easy access to my research and interview notes, dictionary, and concordance.

“Set ground rules for others in the household: ‘Work Zone; No Talking!’” (If you knew the people I live with, you’d giggle at that one, too.)

“Get up and stretch!” (Really? Pul-leeze.)

“Work on something else for a while!” (But this project is the one I promised to have on my editor’s desk in . . . a minute and a half!)

“Make yourself a nice hot cup of tea!” (Uh-huh. Sure. When it’s 90 degrees outside. A-yup. [But even if it was twenty-two out there, the tea never stays hot long enough.])

“Focus on the step-by-step process of the task you’re avoiding!” (Y’mean, like, “Turn on computer. Sit on chair. Put fingers on keyboard. Call up WIP file. Stare like moron at monitor”? Thanks. I already feel plenty stupid without concentrating on that list.)

“Have a snack!” (Um, have you seen this rapidly-expanding waistline of mine???)

“Make a list of task goals!” (Groan!)

“Just make yourself concentrate!” (I won’t sully your pristine mind with my reaction to that.)

Seriously, I’m grateful as all get out to the well-intendeds in my life, but the fact is only one piece of advice has ever worked for me: “Write down what’s distracting you.”

Some days, ol’ Uncle Barney tops the list. (Truthfully, he hasn’t even made the list since I bought him that ticket back to Lalaland, but I digress.) On other days, it’s my cell phone chirping from the next room, or the deafening squeal of the trash truck’s brakes. (You’d think with all the taxes I pay, the county could do something about that. But I digress. Again.)

The act of putting pencil to paper and scribbling all the things that I’m thinking about or focusing on instead of my WIP? Well, the exercise has a couple of perks, as I see it.

For one thing, in this day of cell phones and e-mails and text messages, it isn’t all that often that I get to practice using a writing implement to, well, to write. Sister Bertina (that evil old battle-ax) would be so proud!

For another, it clears a pathway through my crowded brain, and as I’m writing down the problems (i.e. distractions), solutions present themselves. In my humble opinion, that is the true definition of Zen.

Before I know it, I’m back at the keyboard, click-clacking happily along.

Until the dog needs to pee, or hubby wants to know what’s for supper, or . . .

Quick, hand me my pencil, will ya!


Beautiful Bandit