What distracts or draws you away when you want to create? For me it is quick gratification. I love to read and to write book reviews. I tend to download dozens of free books a week. But I figured out that if I read a book a week for the next 30 years, I will not get through the e-books I already have, and that doesn’t include the few hundred actual paper books on my shelves. Why do I do it? And perhaps more importantly what is it costing me? I’ve read that a person like this is called a “digi-hoarder.” They fill their Kindles or other readers with free books and never go back to buy the books at any cost that the free books were supposed to lead you to. In addition, since digi-hoarders are mostly focused on what they can get for free, they may be less likely to write a review, the other benefit an author could expect in return for giving out free books.
I have conflicting interests. I love to knit, garden, shop, cook, spend time with my husband, write book reviews, and watch movies. It was only after being diagnosed with trigger finger on three fingers that I realized if I want to write, I have to save my hands! And even though I love to write book reviews, I have to read the book first, and that takes a lot of time that I could be spending writing my own books. With a full time job and an elderly parent to care for, I have had to make choices. So I have also become more selective about the books I accept for review. I know that if I commit to too many at one time, I feel overwhelmed, especially when I think about my own novel that is languishing in my mind.
Most people value multi-tasking and wear it as a badge of how important they are. If I am working two jobs and have a continually messy desk, it is a sign of just how much I have to do, implying that no one else can do it. In reality it is impossible to truly focus on more than one thing at a time. Computers can multi-task. Humans really can’t. If you are focused on one thing, what else is that keeping you from focusing on? This even applies to eating. If you are eating while working, you are not truly mindful of your meal and are likely to overeat. Your managers may also notice you are not truly mindful of your tasks.
Some tips to take away:
- Determine your true goals and desires. For instance, I never set out to be a professional crafter, but I do mindless crafts at times. I enjoy them, but I would enjoy writing more.
- Value your mind, your intelligence, and your creativity. Yes, you have committed to your children, spouse, parents, job, home, church, and possibly many other things. But you need to do something for you—something that makes you feel alive and purposeful. If you need to do that for you, it will make you happier than you can imagine and that will benefit those you care for. Seriously evaluate everything you say “yes” to. It is keeping you from doing something else.
- Set a schedule. If you commit every day to write one page or do one piece of the task, you may just get inspired and keep going. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin (attributed to Goethe)
- Whatever you want to stay focused on, start small. Break your task down into manageable chunks or smaller tasks and do one before starting anything else new. Start by writing short stories, articles, or even book reviews. Book reviews got me motivated to write again, but I also have novels and articles in the works. There are also many contests available. You can write a story for a contest as an exercise to get the creative juices flowing. Or as Julia Cameron suggests, write three pages every morning, about anything that comes to mind, in a journal. I have tried this and it really works to get me moving and provoke ideas.
We all have our own story to tell, whether it will help the oppressed, educate, or entertain, and we must all find a way to tell it and share it with the world. We are all different and can benefit and grow from each other’s perspective.
Whatever you do, do it with your whole heart and make it the best it can be. Only by doing this will you make a difference.