Lent and the Distracted Writer

Yes, folks.  Mardi Gras is over.  Ash Wednesday is here, and the forty days of penance.  As in, fish on Fridays.  Giving up sweets.  Or soda.  Or alcohol.

Being Catholic, I’m asked to give something up for Lent every year.  One year, I gave up gossip.  Another year, I gave up saying bad things about people.  This year, I’m wondering if I should try to give up what I personally believe is one of the biggies.  It’s a real monkey on my back.

Being distracted.

I am a champion at being distracted.  I don’t like to turn off my wireless, partly because I’ve always allowed myself to believe that it can be hard to turn back on.  I love to look things up, to research, to collects tidbits of information.  I’ve studied cosmetics, perfumes and knitting with the intensity of a day trader.  Also, what if something really important comes through on my email?  What if I miss it?   I have things to do, and often allow myself to think that those are super important.  More important, even, than the work I sat down to do.  Writing.

So, how do I not be distracted?  How do I not look around the room and see the things that need to be picked up.  Turn down the brain-chatter in my head that nags me to get that load of laundry on, check on that bill, hang that coat up, try out that miraculous anti-aging serum?

Because if I can just get those things done, I will be productive!  Right?

Wrong.  If I get those things done, I have done those things.  And I will have allowed myself not to write, yet again.

Again, how do I turn down the distracted side of my head?

In Pressfield’s The War of Art, he calls this PROCRASTINATION. Procrastination, he says, is everything that keeps us from our work.  The Bible addresses it in Corinthians: “whatever you do, do it with your whole heart,” and encourages us to keep in mind that we are working for a higher power.  FlyLady.net starts every year with a new reminder.  This year’s is “Perfectionism is shelved in 2012.”  You can do anything for fifteen minutes!  And it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Just do it.

So.  It is possible.  I have Pressfield, God, and Marla Cilley at my back to keep me on the straight and narrow.  With that in mind, I will do the right thing.  I will turn off the wireless.  I will resolve to do my job with my whole heart.  I will set the timer for fifteen minutes, rest, and repeat, and forgive myself up front for not being perfect.  This is my Lenten resolution.

Do you get distracted?

Checks out this link for more, uhm, encouragement.  Honest, he says it so much better than I ever will:  http://electricliterature.com/blog/2011/07/25/dont-read-this