Distractions are everywhere. They surround us like a thick fog, always jabbing at us, always demanding our attention. Like most of us, I have been guilty of surrendering to distractions that steal my focus from writing– doing housework, returning emails, taking a walk, going for coffee with friends or reading a book. I try to do what many of my reference books suggest – I turn off my phone, hide in my study, and go off the grid in order to concentrate on my work. On most days, I am disciplined enough to adhere to those suggestions; however, I have discovered that, now and then, distractions can be a refreshing intrusion.
When I am struggling with a piece, I find it helpful to walk away and engage in a different task. I often acquire flashes of inspiration while doing something unrelated. In the middle of washing dishes, I will suddenly realize what my character should do; while relaxing in a hot bath, I will have an insight as to how to approach a piece that has grown stale (I now keep a notebook in the bathroom, to record those unexpected revelations). By sometimes giving in to my distractions, I free my mind to stumble on ideas for future stories and discover new ways to approach current projects.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.