Distraction & Discipline

Coffee (reduced)One of the primary tools I use for writing is my computer. One of the primary tools I use for exploring is my computer.

Which is all well and good except that one of the primary tools of my distraction is also my computer.

I’ll just check my mail. Oh man, I need to respond to that. Now where was that link I wanted to share with her? Head to browser, find the link. Remember the thing I was going to post on Facebook. Get lost in a group discussion there. Remember the email that prompted all this. Download email again…

We all do it. And we are told it takes discipline to not do it.

I write myself a note that says NO COMPUTER BEFORE 9AM. I close the laptop and tape that to the top.

Except I’m waiting for an email from someone. Or I’ll set the timer for just 5 minutes. Or….

Today that stopped. Today I went back to the method that has worked for me for years.

And that is to stop reacting to what’s not working (which is what discipline is all about), and instead create conditions for success.

Upon waking, I packed up my books and journals and pens, left my phone at home (this bears repeating in bold: left my phone at home), and went to Crave – the locally owned café that is the coffee equivalent of Cheers in my neighborhood. I settled into “my” booth in the corner.

And for 2 hours, I wrote and explored and had ideas and read. Which is what this sabbatical is supposed to be about.

With that as the start to my day, that is what I want to be doing now. I am not called to Facebook, because I am so jazzed about what jazzed me at 7am in my corner at Crave. I want to continue doing that

If we want to stop snacking on cookies, we can wag fingers and chastise ourselves, making rules and breaking them. Or we can just not buy cookies. The same goes for so many other things we think we need discipline for.

This morning kicked my sabbatical into high gear. A ritual of secluded focused time + high test coffee = my conditions for success.

I’m good to go.

Please invite others along on this exploration of the creative process. Just click on the “share” links below. (If you’re reading this via email, those links are here.) Thanks! 

3 Responses to Distraction & Discipline

  1. Hildy, I’m with ya cyberpal! You hit my core isschew. I haven’t been able to do one bit of writing for 3 mos. since I was talked into creating my ‘name recognition’, author’s platform, social media networks, website creation, final MS editing for FREE for other Indie authors, and attempting to get out of my PJ’s before it’s bedtime. My two cats are my only salvation and that is sad. Just plain SAD. See I’m diabetic in full control as long as I take time to eat, hydrate, take an evening injection, nap and remain in low stress.
    Why is is sad? Because without my felines, I’d never eat, drink or be nappy. Tiger-Lily has perfected interruption of my distraction. She sits on my mouse, silently staring at me with her best ‘stink eye’ reminding me it’s time for us all to either eat, drink, be nappy or all three.


  2. It’s fascinating to read your description of this pattern. I am actually right in the midst of a large writing project right now, as well, and I frequently find myself looking up one piece of data in Google – and when I look back at my document again, 45 minutes are gone.

    For myself, however, I find that the best way to overcome this is to set aside explicit time for the thing which distracts me.

    I start to Google, then pause – and think: “I’m not at the Googling for sources stage of my exercise. I’m in the rough-draft stage. No need for Google yet.” – and suddenly, I’m back in my document, continuing on.

    At the same time, I give myself permission to go off on tangents if my mind keeps going there. The third time I have to say “I’m not at that stage yet”… well… clearly I am. So I reorganize my time a bit, allow the exploration, and instead explicitly set aside future time to get back to writing my draft.

    As I write this, it strikes me that it’s not exactly a bullet-proof system – but it does seem to work for me. I wonder how that compares to your process of sequestering yourself at a favorite coffee shoppe? Similar path, differing implementation?

    Enjoying a chance to connect,

  3. Cynthia – thanks for that great image of distraction.

    Troy – I love this “The third time I have to say “I’m not at that stage yet”… well… clearly I am.” Love the mindfulness and being present to what is really going on. Thanks for sharing it here – and it’s great to see you!!!