The War on Distraction

So, lately I’ve been feeling a little panicked. I’m not too worried about the feeling of being panicked itself, as such – I think it’s pretty normal to be nervous when you’ve made the choices I’ve made, and you’ve picked the slenderest branch of all to cling to. Still, though – feeling panicked is nasty, in and of itself, and I don’t like going through it.

I’m worried about my future, of course, and my husband’s and my financial security as time goes by. I’m worried, in my deepest moments of despair, that I’ve made the wrong choice (when I’m thinking more rationally, I realise I haven’t, of course, and that there’s nothing else on this earth I’m able to do better than what I’m doing right now), and I worry pretty much all the time that I’m not good enough to walk this path I’ve chosen. This manifests itself in various ways – I’m still sick at the moment, for instance, which I feel is significant. I’m normally the kind of person who shrugs off colds and flus and infections, but this one is proving harder to shift. Perhaps my body is metaphorically ‘circling its wagons’, waiting for the next attack, and doesn’t have any resources free to help me fight away the bugs.

I’m also experiencing a strange phenomenon, one I think I dislike very much indeed.

Image: scrapbookladypages.com

Image: scrapbookladypages.com

I’m normally a ‘start a job and see it through’ type of person; I’m not a quitter. I always do my best and I try to bring the same amount of effort to everything I do, whether it’s writing a short story or cleaning the bathroom. Over the past few days, though, I’ve been finding myself distracted at every turn by new ‘ideas’ – storylets, ones which may never have enough strength to stand on their own, but which are new and exciting and interesting and extremely demanding of my attention. I should be working on ‘Eldritch’, getting it fixed up and sorted out and ready to ship off; it’s a good little story, but there are issues with it that really need to be addressed, not least with its structure. Instead, I find my mind embroiling itself in the political and social structure of an entirely new world which is starting to unfurl behind my eyes, and searching through it for a tale that needs telling. I’m quashing my inner voice which is yelling at me that this is the story to write – this one will sell and it will work and it will be brilliant.

But I know what it truly means. I’m not being visited by the Super Inspiration Fairy from the Planet Amazing. It’s my brain trying to veer away from dealing with my real life issues, namely: I need to get something written, finished, polished, polished a bit more, checked one last time, and sent away for other eyes to read. I need to stop starting things, and start stopping things – or, in other words, focus on the work I’ve already begun, and get it finished to the highest level of professional accomplishment I can reach, and then let it go out into the world. I don’t want to dismiss my new ideas completely, and undeniably, it’s difficult to put them in a back pocket, so to speak, and have them ready to come back to when an opportunity presents itself, but it has to be done. I wish I had a big enough brain to work on everything, all at the same time, but I feel splitting my attention like that might make everything suffer.

However, I’m also a planner, and a list-maker, and a systematic sort of person. I get great satisfaction from ticking things off, knowing I’ve reached a particular goal, and that it’s a certain percentage of the way towards my ultimate goal. While procrastinating via distracting myself with new stories is, I feel, a destructive thing masquerading as a constructive thing, making lists of agents, publishers, dates, deadlines, competitions and so on can be a constructive thing – so long as I don’t let it get out of hand. In this regard, I have the greatest help imaginable in my husband, who shows me such loving support by actually telling me he enjoys looking things up for me on the internet and making me lists of competitions to enter and places to submit. What better help could I wish for? He’s the best defence I have against the war of attrition that Distraction is waging upon me right now, and I am so glad to have him by my side.

So, the plan today is: focus on getting better and feeling stronger, gently make note of any new ideas that bubble up in a panicked froth from the gurgling lake of my subconscious before putting them away somewhere safe, and, most critically, finish ‘Eldritch.’ I can’t do all of this at once, of course, but I need to stop allowing my attention to be divided. I don’t want to become a person who starts plenty, and finishes little. It’s never happened before, and it won’t start happening now.

Time to get to work.

Image: theheroinesbookshelf.com

Image: theheroinesbookshelf.com

2 thoughts on “The War on Distraction

  1. Kate Curtis

    Hasn’t your rash and impulsive side arrived yet? I fear I have left you without it for too long, all this self-doubt and procrastination just isn’t you!

    Don’t lose sight of what you have achieved! Keep writing. Stay strong and hope you’re feeling more like yourself soon. xx 🙂

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      No, actually – it hasn’t come back yet. It must have been lost in the post. Someone in mainland Europe must be off having a brilliant time with my rash and impulsive side! 🙂

      It isn’t me, all this procrastination; self-doubt, now, I would always have struggled with. But I am feeling very under the weather at the moment. Ironically, the weather itself is quite lovely these days – you’d think my health and mood would lift with it, instead of going the other way! Anyway, I am off to the doctor now and I hope there’ll he/she’ll be able to help. And then, we’ll be back to business.

      Have a lovely evening, Kate – and thanks, as always, for commenting. xx

      Reply

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