So me posting this is a distraction in itself, but I believe that a writer’s greatest bane, and a marketer’s greatest boon, are distractions, and focusing on them and why they come about are just as important as deciding whether this sentence is passive or active. By the way, that previous sentence was a little of both.
But let me get to the point. Living a writerly life can be very, very frustrating, especially when distractions come into play. Right now, I’m suffering from a very heavy dose of short attention span-ism, and I can hardly focus on one article before I get distracted by a tweet here, a website there, and the possibility of writing another blog post. It’s insane, I tell you. When your mind is fleeting this fast, you can’t just help but wonder: what the hell do you have to do to get your brain to bloody focus?!
Through the years, though, I’ve come up with a list of the things that helps me focus away from distraction. The problem with such lists is that they’re never foolproof, and some of the things actually contradict some of the other items in the list, so I probably won’t go in-depth in describing all the items here. But I’m sure most of you, especially you writers, have gone through at least some of the items in my list. I don’t know if they’ve ever worked for you, but the way it is with my mind, I think my brain gets conditioned to the new method of avoiding distraction, so the next time distraction comes looming and I deploy one of the methods I’ve come up with, my mind counterattacks with strings of logic that loops away and through the tactic.
But for the sake of putting it down to writing, here’s a list of some of the strategies I’ve tried throughout my life as a writer.
- Music soothes the savage beast. And for a time, it soothed my mind and helped me focus. But some of the days, I find myself listening intently to elements of a song. So much so that I lose focus on what I need to finish, and instead focus on how the hell Tony Levin did that lick, for instance.
- Coffee. It keeps me active and alert, and it wakes me up. But sometimes—perhaps due to the dosage of the coffee, or to residue caffeine in my system from the previous day’s intake—I suffer from anxiety attacks and nervousness. So when this happens, coffee serves more as a distraction than an aid in concentration.
- Closing all other applications aside from the browser and the document I’m writing. Now, I’ve tried this, and so far, this is the one tactic that almost always works. The key here is that I’m not sleepy, and I’m not connected to the Internet. But if I’m working on something that requires the ‘net, I am left with no choice but to connect. And then messenger is one click away, and so is stumble upon…
- Sleep. Okay, so sleep doesn’t help you focus. But it does help you recharge. I wish I could take powernaps like most other people, but my powernaps focus on the “power” part and not so much on the “nap” part.
- Read through what you’ve written. This backfires because you’re never sure if what you’ve written will encourage even more writing, or if what it encourages will be better writing. Plus points to people who get to focus after reading through a blank page. I’ve never done that.
- Walking. Actually, walking really helps you focus your mind—while you’re walking. Otherwise, it is an aerobic activity that I now dub as time consuming.
- Talking to people. This helps in the creation of new ideas, but sooner or later, you realize that you’ve been talking way too long. Focus? You must be joking.
And of course, when all else fails, I resort to the eighth item on my list of distractions from distractions: blogging. Which is, again, not really helping me any.