The Art of Self-Distraction

Distractions - MorgueFile

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile

You ever notice how easy it is to let distractions keep you from what you really should be doing?

In addition to catching up on some long overdue house cleaning, I plan to use this week of being off to really get going on Deviations revision. I stalled out a little at first today, letting myself get distracted, then struggling with “where to start” even though I’d already done the first scene.

The first stumble/stall out was researching!   I mentioned last episode about the discovery on how deceased pets are handled, which was surprisingly easier to learn about than trying to research Japan’s overall mental health system and in particular get a feel for what therapy/treatment Miho might be undergoing for her PTSD.  I’ve had hints that, at best, it’s as bad at here in the US, but also hints that it may actually be worse in that it’s possible psychology doesn’t require accreditation or the like.  That one derailed me yesterday and today.

Then when I was finally like “okay, well let’s just get writing”, that’s when I started trying to figure out where to even start.  So I cleaned a little, decorated my office a lot (seriously, put a bunch of stuff up on the walls and emptied an entire box of stuff I’d had in storage for years).  I went to McDonald’s for some Sprite to drink until my freshly made sweet tea was cool enough to drink.  I made lunch.  I fixed up my hair and wet it to help me stay cooler.  I took a nap.  I fed the girls. I made dinner.  

Can you guys tell I’m like a queen at self-distraction?  Fully six hours later, I still haven’t actually written a word!  I did figure out before my nap that I needed to do to it what I’d done with Aisuru in Scrivener: take the whole first draft, move it to a new folder, then start the new draft again, selectively copy/pasting as appropriate. This makes it easier for me to give myself the freedom to add more scenes or move them around (doing both for the opening).

Now I just need to actually get to it…because I’m still distracting myself by writing this post about my distractions while checking KBoards and making another cursory run through researching PTSD! 

Of course the interesting question is why? Why is it so easy to be distracted, to let myself turn from what I should be doing, what I claim I want to be doing?  I mean, if I really “wanted” to do it, I’d just do it right?  It isn’t that I don’t want to revise Deviations, or that I don’t want to write.  I do.  So why is it so easy to get focused on other things?

In my case, I think it’s a few things:

  1. I do have a bit of “butterfly” syndrome, as I call it, and I’m just plain easily distracted.  I can drive people nuts sometimes talking or riding in the car because I’ll suddenly say something completely irrelevant to the current conversation (“like, cool building” or just start laughing at something silly I saw on the side of the road).  I’m fortunate in that my sweetie is patient with me about it and has (mostly) learned that when I do that I’m not trying to hint that I want to change the subject or that I’m not listening.  My brain just gets hyper multi-tasky and flakes.  I’m also fortunate in that my partner is the same way and we can have a conversation, go down five tangents, and then get back to the topic at hand without missing a beat.
  2. Fear.  Whenever I start revising one of my works and for most of the revision process, I’m afraid.  Afraid I’m “ruining” it, afraid I’m doing it all wrong, afraid no one will want to read it.  I don’t know what’s worse as a writer – the fear that no one will want to read my stories, or the fear that people will and they will all hate it.  Both sit behind me though, negative little voices that berate me and make my mind avoid the hassle by turning to stuff with less pressure.
  3. Laziness.  Eh, I’ll call a spade a spade – sometimes I’m just lazy and just don’t want to do anything.  Or I’d rather do something more fun.  Writing the first draft is fun – revision is work. Lots of work.  I’d rather have fun – like thinking of a new story just before I laid down for that nap earlier or wanting to read or play games.  But life can’t be all fun and just like I have to get up, go to work, and do my job, I really need to do better about actually doing my writing job.

So now that I’ve killed another hour by distracting myself to talk about distractions :-D, it’s time to get off my bum, activate FreedomApp so the internet cannot be my butterfly (the worse of the butterflies really), and work!

What about you?  Have you had times when you needed, even wanted to do something, and yet part of you didn’t?  What sort of distractions do you use to let yourself procrastinate?