Focus.4 min read
I’m perpetually distracted. Staring at a blank Scrivener page for hours on end, not getting a single word on paper because my brain is just numb. It’s akin to drawing blood from a stone, and frankly, it’s stupid. When I sit to write, it’s when I suddenly hear every sound, my body becomes famished and my brain zones into everything but what I am supposed to be writing.
My writing brain seems to be a child with ADHD, on a sugar high, having consumed a red bull after a full night’s sleep. Even while writing this, I’ve pulled my distracted brain back into focus only about 50 times, and we’re just over 100 words. It’s worse when I have to write work stuff… and this is what scares me the most. This blog allows me to just freely write as it comes; pantsing it all the way – while we’re on topic, allow me to be honest: I pants all my work. I rarely every plot blog posts unless they are a part of a highly specific campaign, and even then, the work is moderately planned and then I wing the rest of it. The results are very natural flowing creative, so the process, and sometimes lack thereof, makes sense to me.
Hungry. Back hurts. Cars whizzing by. Where are they going? He’s definitely not going the speed limit. Acid is eating my stomach alive. Those ornaments on the table need readjusting. What can I buy on Amazon? Do my eyebrows need doing? Should I do my nails today, they are a bit long. Leg cramp. I’m cold. Coffee. I need coffee. Maybe if I shower again I might be able to concentrate. WTF. <snaps fingers> F-O-C-U-S DÉSIRÉ. (This is happening in a closed room, not outdoors, but in a room where there is little to distract me.)
I need music to write. Very specific music too. Piano, but crossed over with chill-step. No words. Just melody. Oceans by Tracey Chattaway. Must be a specific volume in case of fire or emergency but loud enough where I can’t hear my brain offer up other options. Like my focus brain is now that specific.
Here’s the kicker. This only happens when I’m writing. Any of my other creative work starts with a blank canvas and just evolves into something magical until my brain is visually content with the product in front of me. But when it comes to writing… it seems like I need to chain my brain down in a padded cell to produce some words. Writing is much harder than design.
Google pretty much diagnosed my affliction as ADHD (which I already knew I had) and a creative block due to my head having too many ideas floating about, so the next few days will be a brain dump and maybe some productive work-related writing will emerge… or maybe today will be the day I run out of ideas. Maybe I’m finished before I really began. Maybe I didn’t have it to start with. Maybe this imposter syndrome needs to fuck off. I know that I’m not out of ideas, but like many other creatives, imposter syndrome is a real thing for me. It takes constant reassurance from my patient other half to keep it at bay. F-O-C-U-S.
What seems to help is identifying the distractions, giving them fun names and creating characters of them. My head is like a noisy zoo, so every time something distracting pops up, I just tell it to go back to its cage. Like that thought about regular makeup application keeping my skin clear and my acne away… My phone is next to me and it’s so easy to open Instagram or Twitter and lose an hour. Back to your cage distraction monkey! But what about that new mobile game everyone’s talking about? Oh and I need to google why my parrot sleeps a lot during the day, even though it’s quite helpful when I’m working… (that google search just cost me an hour of editing time.)
Will power and identification will only get you so far. I’m also giving myself 30 minute focused time pockets for writing. My theory goes that once I’m writing, I’ll not get up or do anything else unless absolutely necessary until I hear that timer. Then it will be up to me whether I continue writing while it flows, or if it’s not, a break might be helpful.
I know that I am not the only one who is facing this every day. Hopefully we can all power through it to become the world changing creatives and innovators we all know we can be. We’re all capable of it, but we need to power through the noise and produce. This isn’t about being lazy or not believing in yourself. Creative work is hard and unlike fields like accounting, there isn’t a benchmark or standard to work towards… creative work is all about personal opinion, and that’s the worst part about it. So keep creating and send those distraction monkeys back to their cage for 30 minutes!