How to Turn Writing Interruptions into Writing Research (free workbook pdf download)

When life throws you an unexpected curveball, knock it into something out-of-the-park awesome.

Being interrupted is my biggest pet peeve in the world. Especially when I’m writing.

Interruptions are just some of life’s curveballs, though. They seem to be targeted especially toward a writer’s writing, and sometimes there’s nothing we can do about it.

A family crisis. An accident. Something unplanned.

We should always make writing a priority. We need to let our family know when our writing time is and carve out that time into our schedules. Even then, there are still some interruptions we just can’t control.

But why let those interruptions be in vain?

If I can’t write when I plan to, I find a way to take the interruption and make it count for something.

I believe you should, too.

I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!

(Note: At the end of the post, I give away a free PDF you can download that turns all the information in this post into an actionable worksheet with writing exercises to help apply research to your writing right away.)


1. Negative Emotions

(because I don’t know why positive emotions would keep you from writing)

I almost didn’t write this post.

I had just had a discouraging conversation, hit writer’s block, and wanted to scream in frustration because of how late I was getting started on my to-do list.

Negative emotions can keep you from doing a lot of stuff.

While most of the time we just need to suck it up, press through and work anyway, there are a few times where we’ll never be productive unless we have a change of mindset.

In times like those, you can still do something.

  • Harness the emotion

I’ve always felt that it’s fine to have emotions, as long as you don’t let them have/rule you.

Harness that emotion; how does it feel? How can you describe it? What analogies could you use to help describe it?

I felt like my heart had morphed into a dark blue orb of heaviness that was weighing down my chest.

Learning how to accurately describe emotions in writing is no further away then turning to our own emotions.

I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!

Harnessing your emotions and describing them is like a real-life writing prompt to make your own characters’ described emotions more powerful.

2. Family Interruptions

I must be wearing a big sign on my forehead that says “I’m hard at work! Come interrupt and talk to me!”

Kidding. I’m glad my family enjoys my company.

And when they take it upon their blessed selves to come say hi in the middle of work, take advantage of the interruptions by…

  • People-watching

I love people-watching.

It’s like a reality TV show… in real life. I could just stare at people all day long and be extremely amused.

What is your family member’s body language when they’re talking to you? Does it reflect the emotion in their voice? What little quirks or idiosyncrasies do they have? How can you accurately describe action beats and character movements in this way?

  • Practicing the torture you put characters through

My characters get interrupted by people all the time.

I just plotted a scene in which my protagonist and love interest finally figure out how to decipher censored letters full of important information… and are immediately interrupted by the antagonists.

I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!

So when interrupted by family, put yourself in your characters’ shoes.

What kinds of thoughts are running through your head? How badly do you want to shove people out of the room and get back to work? How antsy do you get? How can you convey these reactions in your characters?

3. Responsibilities

Most people knock out school and chores before writing. And I generally do get school knocked out beforehand, too.

But in my family, we usually stay available throughout the day to help my mom with whatever she needs.

So right in the middle of this blog post I’m called to take the trash out!

In cases like this…

  • Take inspiration from your surroundings/setting

How does the pen-scratch against paper sound? How does the ground beneath your flapping flip-flops feel when you roll the trash can out? What interesting details do you note about your surroundings?

I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!

Searching out details in real-life settings is good inspiration for searching out details in your story‘s setting to help really make it pop and immerse readers into it.

(Just make sure to focus on writing the pertinent details of your story’s setting.)

4. Outings

This is the worst.

During the unexpected week I had to take off of writing, I had to spend one entire day out of the house and unable to focus on my writing.

Again, I people-watched.

We were doing a big family project, so I enjoyed watching my family interact with each other (and me—gimme allll the attention now that I’m not busy!), what they did when no one was watching them, and their cute little quirks.

You should also…

  • Describe the weather.

Setting description is fun for me, but I almost always forget the weather. It’s the most overlooked part of my scene outline.

So when I had to drive with my family to go shopping instead, I paid attention to the weather and described it in my mind.

How does the weather feel against your skin?

Does the sun burn your arms, the wind sweep your hair off your shoulders, or the cold bite at your bones? Does the humidity make sweat drip down your back?

How does the weather change the appearance of your surroundings? When the sun goes behind a cloud, is it colder and darker? Or is there relief from the summer heat?

My series is set in Japan, and Japan’s summers are almost exactly like Florida summers (where I live). The first book in my series is set in summer, so I always get a kick out of feeling the weather for myself and pretending I’m in Japan.

And then my favorite:

  • Be on the listen for witty quips.

I write down every epic quote or witty quip there is.

No, literally.

I have thousands of notes written down in my phone.

Whether they’re epic one-liners, sassy comebacks, mic-dropping Scripture verses or witty responses, I always jot them down.

I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!

I love taking inspiration from things people say and infusing their emotion into my own prose and dialog.

Plus, the stuff people say is so interesting. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they talk, subjects they avoid, the way they say something, or even the way they look while they say it!

Just like I keep an eye out for setting details and a feel out for the weather, I keep an ear out for neat lines.

5. Other

The power goes out. Describe the darkness.

You get sick. How does the throw-up scraping against your throat feel? (Sorry. ?)

You made it to the coffee shop and completely forgot your laptop. Harness and describe the emotion, people-watch, listen for witty quips, note the surroundings… just take notes on life.


Don’t let those moments in life where you can’t write be in vain.

Take full advantage of them and turn them into valuable times of research and real-life experience, no matter what has pulled you away from your WIP.

In fact, this is made easiest by a workbook I made.

It compiles all the information in this blog post and puts it into a simple, helpful strategy to use.

It will immediately help you take advantage of those interrupts and turn them into productive, effective time of research.

Instead of mentally taking notes of stuff, I can keep this handy little PDF in my phone or even print it out and keep it on hand and actually write my notes on it.

I’ve even included helpful writing exercises to take your research and apply it to your writing immediately (if you write fiction).

Since there’s nothing I love more than a good giveaway, this is completely free and available to anybody!

I hope it helps you! Just click the button below to get it.

Do writing interruptions ever drive you crazy? What do you think of the workbook?

By | 2019-05-28T14:11:45-04:00 May 15th, 2018|Freebies, Writing, Writing Tips|44 Comments

About the Author:

Hey! I'm Madi, a blogger, writer, doll collector, & minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can learn more about me by clicking here and more about this blog by clicking here.


  1. Julia May 15, 2018 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Thanks for all the tips! I’m waiting for the workbook right now. ?

  2. YAAAY!! This is awesome, Madi!!! Great tips!! (But what about sleeping??? HOW CAN YOU GET INSPIRATION FROM THAT!?!? XDDD)

  3. Hannah May 15, 2018 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Awesome tips! I really get extremely annoyed when my family calls, “Hannah, we need you!” or “We’re going shopping!” XDXD

  4. Kendall Henson May 15, 2018 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    This looks amazing! I cannot wait to put all of the advice to use, thanks!

  5. Laura Beth May 15, 2018 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Great tips! I’ll definitely be printing out your workbook!

  6. olivehiddenhollow May 15, 2018 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    I wasn’t going to say anything, just read the post and the pdf, but then you mentioned power outs… *laughing* you’re lookin’ at the queen of power outs, people. (just kidding. we don’t get THAT many power outs….but they do all seem to happen in the winter) BUT i can proudly say that power outs do not phase us. wether its a small one, or one that stretches on for daaaaays. one of my favorites was the ‘worst’ which happened a few years ago in the middle of january. (i’ve told this story before, but whateves) we had an ice storm, and lost power for two/three whole days. we still had running water, mom put candles in the bathroom and we holed up in the schoolroom with the kerosene heater. it was a pretty normal atmosphere, i was reading Harry Potter, the other kids played and drew. we went shopping, and cooked over the heater. the power came back on, and we were disapointed, because that heater was MUCH warmer than our rooms were normally in the winter. bottom line is, we get power outs a lot, and i know how to deal with them. XD not that its going to be that much help in my book,since its mostly set in a fantasy world, but oh well. what i need to learn is how to live without plumbing, but i’d rather not live through that. XD
    Most crazily, ~Olive

    p.s. a friend of my mom’s is moving to florida, and i was a little excited because mom would want to visit them, they’ve got three little girls who would love to go to the american girl store, and maybe i’d get to meet you, but then i saw on the map that they’re moving waaaaay out onto the handle, barely in florida at all. dang.

    • Madison Grace May 24, 2018 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      You weren’t gonna comment? ? Just kidding. XD

      HAHA that sounds awesome! Power outs don’t happen to us for very long, but they are super fun. Go you for not letting them phase you! And oh my goodness, I’ve lived without plumping a few times. I had to poop in a bucket. Such a memorable experience…

      P.S. Awww man. That would’ve been so awesome! :/

  7. Silverfoxstudios May 15, 2018 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    This is so true! And while I love my family and all, they can get in the away sometimes. Like I might be in the middle of a epic fight scene with all this injury and fighting moves playing out in my head while I write, and then my sister will come in and start talking to me. And I don’t want to mean by telling her to leave, but I really want to keep writing before the inspiration leaves.
    Can you relate to that? I feel like a lot of writers could.

    • Madison Grace May 24, 2018 at 3:16 pm - Reply

      I can totally relate! It can be hard to get family to respect our writing time without being rude to them. Setting a consistent writing time and making your family aware of it really helps.

  8. Caleb E King May 15, 2018 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    Great tips, Madi!
    Ugh…being interrupted is the worst…? so I will definitely start using these things! 🙂

  9. Tess (blackiesunshine) May 16, 2018 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Man. Interruptions drive me CRAZY. Like the fly that’s in the blinds next to me that I’m about to kill with an insane scream. XD. But now I’m like – the fly buzzed frantically, and each time it smacked against the window it tripped over Tess’s nerves. Finally, she’d had enough…..

    • Madison Grace May 24, 2018 at 3:18 pm - Reply

      In the days that have passed since I first read this comment, I’ve now been describing annoyances in my head like you did with the fly. That’s so awesome. XD

  10. Kirstyn May 16, 2018 at 12:45 pm - Reply


    I need you to pray for someone.

    I met her on Roblox (a game), so I don’t know her real name, but her username was lonkponk. We were playing Royale High on it (Roblox has a bunch of different games), and her roleplay name was Lucy, so I’ll just call her that.

    Anyway, someone else on the game said, “My legs are skinny as h***,” so I said “Hell is a place you know and it’s horrible.” Then Lucy said, “yeah I’ve been there,” and I said, “Oh no you haven’t.” I told her that Hell was worse than anything you could ever imagine or experience.

    Then she said something like, “You haven’t been there have you?” And I said, “No. I’m Saved by the Blood of the crucified One.” Then she said she wasn’t a Christian, and I said “Jesus died for you you know” and she said “Aww bless his souel” (she meant bless His soul). Then I told her He rose from the dead. At this point, I don’t think she was really paying any attention or cared about what I was saying, but I kept talking, anyway, remembering your post on madigrace about planting seeds.

    I told her that she could die at any second and if she didn’t know Jesus she would go to Hell. I told her all she had to do was admit she was a sinner and ask Jesus into her heart. Then I had to get off the game.

    Just pray that Lucy (lonkponk) won’t push that conversation away and label it as irrelevant, and pray that I won’t be the last to witness to her. If you’d do that it’d be great.

    • Madison Grace May 24, 2018 at 3:18 pm - Reply

      Good on you for witnessing to her even if it seemed like she wasn’t listening! I’ll definitely be praying. Thank you for being such an awesome light to her.

      • Kirstyn Todd May 25, 2018 at 11:13 am - Reply

        Thank you. 🙂

  11. bellaputt May 18, 2018 at 10:14 am - Reply

    This is so helpful! I guess I never really thought of turning interruptions into research. Thanks so much for posting this!

  12. Emily Justice May 21, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Madi! This is totally perfect! I just got back from a week long trip where I mentally(and maybe verbally XD) moaned about not being able to work on my WIP….while I wish I had read this before the trip, it really helped me to see that I CAN still work on writing…even without my laptop. 😀 Thanks for sharing! I totally can’t wait to try this out!
    Oh! And the family interruptions….I can SO relate. O.o XD

    • Madison Grace May 24, 2018 at 3:20 pm - Reply

      Aww, thank you so much, Emily! I hope the tips help, and I can totally relate — I’ve been on one too many a trip where I pouted about not being able to work on my writing, too! XD

  13. olivehiddenhollow May 21, 2018 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    omg Madi I think I’m going to die of shame I was talking with my ten year old sister Daisy, and I don’t remember what I said but she replied with “Ninjas are real? I thought they were just made up!” If you spot a sputtering fish in the corner it’s just me. ???‍♀️
    Most crazily, ~Olive

  14. Enni May 22, 2018 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    You know, this is really, really helpful. XD

  15. olivehiddenhollow May 24, 2018 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    (talking about a scene in my book, which i was working on before i wrote this comment)
    Dad: So, those three people get attacked by six trolls?
    Me: Yeah.
    Dad: And only one of them knows how to fight?
    Me: Yeah.
    Dad: And their dragon is somewhere else?
    Me: Yeah.
    Dad. Wow. Short book.
    Me: -_-
    Dad: The trolls are going to eat them, right?
    Me: *sighs* Dad, I can’t kill off all the characters that quickly!
    Dad: Well SOMEBODY should get eaten.
    Me: That’s called sloppy writing.
    Dad: They can be unlikable. Then it’ll be a relief when they get eaten.
    Me: It’s still sloppy.
    Dad: You’re the writer! You can do whatever you want with your book! Make somebody get eaten, and it’ll be a best seller!
    Me: I doubt it.
    Dad: I should really write a book someday. Or just make it up, and have somebody else write it.

    *long drawn out sigh*

    what i have to deal with. and i cut it off before he started discussing with my sibling about writing a book full of unlikable (or likable!) characters and making them die in some gruesome way, and it would be the next hunger games! *face palm*

    Most crazily, ~Olive

    • Madison Grace May 24, 2018 at 3:23 pm - Reply

      AHAHA I KNOW RIGHT. My dad does not understand my writing, either, despite the fact he wants to write a book someday too. It’s so funny. XD

      • Kirstyn Todd May 25, 2018 at 11:15 am - Reply

        *Shakes head* I think they do understand. It’s just that both of your dads are goofballs who like to make fun of things, like mine. XD

    • Skipper Spirit June 2, 2018 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      Exactly! That’s practically the way conversations go when it comes to my stories as well. They simply don’t get that there are certain literary walls we as authors can’t cross. You can’t kill every single difficult character; it just doesn’t work that way! XP

  16. Kirstyn Todd May 25, 2018 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Well, Hyeallow, Madi.

    Go. There. Now.

    Trust me, it’s important. 🙂

    • Madison Grace June 2, 2018 at 3:54 pm - Reply

      Aww, THANK YOU, Kirstyn! I’ll try to do it ASAP. ❤️

      • Kirstyn Todd June 3, 2018 at 4:41 pm - Reply

        You’re welcome, and thank you! 🙂 <3

  17. em June 8, 2018 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    Sadly I can’t do weather descriptions in my book…
    The majority of the book is set underground, so no rainy, snowy, or sunny days are possible. An eighth of the first chapter is aboveground and outside, and it’s just sunny. An eighth of the last chapter will also be outside, but again it’ll be sunny because it’s the same day.



    • Madison Grace June 8, 2018 at 5:10 pm - Reply

      Awww! Well, you could always do temperature descriptions.

      • em June 8, 2018 at 8:13 pm - Reply

        Yeah, although it’s quite humid mostly…I’m writing another book with my friend and I’m going to take all the chances I can get to use weather descriptions. >:)

  18. Mallory O'Bier April 27, 2020 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    These are some great ideas! 🙂 I sometimes take a notebook along with me (or did before the pandemic) to coffee shops, restaurants, parks, waiting rooms, or libraries, and take the time to write down some sights and impressions. I’ve written about negative emotions before too, and witty quips. I really ought to write stuff like that more often though. It makes for some useful material. 🙂

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