Multitasking may seem like a necessity in today’s world, but it’s a killer for creativity. I saw an interview with Patti Smith recently where she said that during her sojourn in Michigan she would use the early morning hours before her kids woke up for writing and studying. I’m an early riser too, and I need absolute silence (or Zen music) when I’m writing. People have different levels of tolerance, but anything that distracts your mental energy from focusing on the creative task is bad, and the internet is full of them.
When you get stuck on a sentence, it’s temping to open a window and kill some time, but I’ve found it’s better to stay with the thought and work through the problem. If all else fails, it’s probably smarter to take a walk or do something physical than to open the Daily Mail. It’s easy to get pulled into one wormhole or another and before you know it, hours have passed and you haven’t written one word.
Mind space distractions are killers to creativity, and certain people can burrow in there real good. My husband has a rule for his business. If he wakes up still thinking about some asshole on the job, he fires them. Now, most of us don’t have that luxury when it comes to our working lives, but how many of us have hung on to shitty relationships out of some warped sense of duty? I know I have. We all have bad moments now and then, but if someone is consistently obnoxious to the point where you are thinking about them too much, it’s time for the old heave-ho. It may sound harsh, but in order to create to your fullest potential your mind must be free from the petty dramas of life.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes on the topic: “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” It’s a little trickier when dealing with family members, but contact should be limited with people who make you feel worse after spending time with them. It doesn’t mean these are bad people per se. I admit I’m sensitive. One person’s dickhead may be another person’s edgy challenger.
The Social Sap
It’s been months since I deleted my Facebook page. Once in awhile I’ll ask a friend who’s still on if I’m missing anything and he always says, “Nah.” Twitter may be the next to go. Case in point, I just got pulled, via Twitter, into some YouTube drama (gee whiz, Peter, I hope you’re okay.) I was just scrolling my feed through during a break from writing and found myself hours later still watching the back and forth bitch-fest. And on Christmas Eve! Later that night, while ice-skating at Penn’s Landing and having a great time under the stars and Christmas lights, I promised myself that in 2018 I will have more real experiences and less virtual ones.
My one social media exception is Wattpad. Just recently one of my stories got featured on the site which means I went from having a few hundred views to a few thousand in a matter of days (I plan to write a separate blog post about it). I enjoy Wattpad because it’s focused on writing—a guilt-free distraction.
I know I’m not the only one who finds distractions a problem. There are several writing APPs designed to limit them, like an old-fashioned typewriter. I admit I’d never want to go back to my college Selectric, but I do sometimes reminisce about the times when if someone was trying to reach me by phone, I had the luxury to say, “sorry, I wasn’t home.”