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Getting Deliberate about Distractions

I heard a wonderful description of Jesus a while back that has revolutionized my spiritual life: he was infinitely distractible. Another way to say it might be “always interruptible.” Which is a really helpful thought because if you’re anything like me, distraction is the name of the game sometimes. And my susceptibility to distractibility seems to increase with certain days of the week, times of the month, and even seasonally (winter, anyone?). As life gets busy and fills up with too much to do, trouble with distraction is inevitable.

Yet another word keeps coming up to do work with me recently: “deliberate.” (I’ve also used this word to describe what I do as an editor.) Similar in meaning to “intentional,” I prefer deliberate. Quality writing and living requires being deliberate, even if our best-laid plans so often go awry.

Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.

I’m still setting a schedule, creating a budget, and making a plan for whatever I want to get done, like a book for instance. We often do have some control, and sometimes more than we think. We exert influence over unhelpful distractions and we should preserve our good intentions. Especially at busy times, protecting the writing time requires vigilance.

Yet consider how often Jesus was on his way somewhere and got obstructed or waylaid. Distractions can bring inspiration, like opportunities in disguise. An outside influence can bring unexpected help, and if I’m looking for distraction (i.e. procrastinating), likely I need a break or just some good or better input. This is something I do deliberately try to live by: the “input/output principle” (which I broke down a bit here). The simple idea of breathing in and then out, we need both great input to write about, and exceptional, crafted output.

And here’s the point: getting deliberate about both distractions and plans is possible, seeing them both as inspiring input and delayed output, actually allows for more permission to do great work and live open to goodness. Permission to plan and to goof off! And if there’s anything writers need it’s more permission to both work and play. Unexpected input at regular intervals keeps things fresh and helps break blocks. Being too deliberate is trying too hard, and if you’re too tightly controlled, it can backfire and make your planned words boring and lifeless.

Could we instead stay open to the unexpected and be more flexible to allow new inspiration in? The writing will benefit from that.

It’s another place to shed black/white, either/or thinking and embrace both/and. This may be obvious to others, but being committed and deliberate about writing is only half the job. Input is vital too, so letting go of the work at times is also how we first “stand up to live.” Most times, filling up with great input on weekends will lead to a natural retreat into writing on weekdays. But also let the practice of writing in the morning also become a practice of input-gathering in the form of giving where it’s needed by family and friends. I always always have to guard my time from being frittered away, but input-gathering is not a luxury; it’s life.

It’s a goal, but not of “flawless perfection.” A higher-purpose writer is strongly committed to daily output, but also resolved to find the input God has planned for every day.

Remember: you’re never alone in the search!

For the higher purpose,

Mick

2 Responses to “Getting Deliberate about Distractions”

  1. Ann Stauffer says:

    This post reaches deep into my struggle with distractions and my new commitment to write daily and drys some tears. How precious are both countless rich distractions and the golden hour I’ve found each day just because I demanded this of myself. The permission to see these in-put gathering times as both work and play, as life and important to my writing discipline is just so kind of you. Thank you! I really needed that reminder that you met needs by writing. And yet you also embrace the other loves of your life without sabotaging your calling! I’m also reading Bird by Bird which has inspired me to laugh more while doing cpr on my surprisingly terrible first draft. I’m really having fun. Thanks again!!
    Annie

  2. Mick says:

    Thanks, Annie. I was thinking if I had more time, I’d revise and clarify this again–but this already went two rounds in the refiner cage! And I have bigger (longer, messier) fish to fry…

    Keep writing!

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