Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Art of Distraction

As only writers understand, concentration can turn capricious. The focus which must be maintained to generate lucid prose is easily interrupted & can buckle under the pressure exhorted by an unsympathetic will to accomplish-at-any-cost. For a stretch, the mind sustains taut & fluid, words & their accompanying images synergize into elegant, usable sentences. Then like some fast-moving rain cloud, distraction shoots in to block the focus of that earlier intent—we are left hanging.

Each writer possesses favourite methods utilized to prevent this eventual distraction from functional passages of quality work. In the times when we fall short or have been pumped dry, engaging in some activity outside of the actual writing often assists in the desire to renew concentration & to continue refreshed & inspired along the path of our story.

Options for diversion abound: the home always needs something by way of maintenance & business demands which accompany the independent writer are varied. Personally, I chose to engage in a vigorous interlude of some video game. The frenetic pace & rapid eye movement—all that obsessive clicking does something to the squeezed mind, though I am not exactly certain what. After a vigorous session of some high-stakes electronic mayhem, I feel as though something has been released; I feel as though I have done something else.

This seems to be the central point in creating that refreshing distraction.

On days when I am not up to the blitzkrieg of flashing graphics & rapid-firing adrenalin, I turn to the organics. Fussing with house plants or in season, a light session of weeding in my small garden helps to shift the scene. In these quiet moments, I imagine that I understand the ineffable mystery of Zen; I do, albeit mindfully & the migration of attention from the inner-mechanics of a spinning imagination helps to introduce a gentler awareness.

I notice my hands; I look at the topography of the soil. I admire the stages of development a plant passes through. Life becomes more knowable in these moments of calm & I am able to retract an earlier wave of anxiety to settle into what can be discerned of a larger perspective.

These intervals remind me of the process of progress. They assure me that each system of functions has it’s own rhythm, it's own unique pace. Sometimes this works beautifully & I drift back to the writing desk in a serene, enhanced mood. The small break I was forced to take from unsuccessful effort has rejuvenated.

[Images by Robert Mars}

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Matrix of Time

As writers, our schedules are likely to be as different as the swirling lines on the end of our fingers. What small actions will total the sum of a manuscript? Discipline is critical but how to milk those isolated hours of maximum productivity?

I am big on creating schedules where I block out each day, then itemize what I intend to accomplish during each of those time periods. These often turn out to be fake. Being easily led astray, I will follow a different thread & spoil careful calculation. The time writing being so precious & the demands of self-publishing so divergent, the hours required for exploratory research spins into days.

                                      There is always so much to learn.

When I eventually descend into the pages of a work-in-progress, hours pull & stretch like fresh taffy. I ignore so much of the physical world in these sessions, then console myself with the fact that there is no other way. Self-justification becomes the shield, behind which I type & delete & fret.

The craft of writing has special needs & I remain committed, as fully as life's circumstances will permit, to satisfying those unique demands.

{Images by Olivia Jefferies}