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Distractions? What Distractions?

Editor's Pick in the Stuff Writers Like 2016 Writing Contest


Lil’-bit heads back to where Papa has his “office” carrying some random item she’s picked out from the toy-strewn floor of her play/entertainment area, (what Nanny and Papa call a living room).

2016 Stuff Writers Like Writing Contest Editor's Pick Paul D. Bryant

Congratulations to Paul D. Bryant, editor’s pick in the 2016 Stuff Writers Like Writing Contest with this entry.

            In the background, Thomas the Tank Engine and his fellow trains can be heard facing another choo-choo challenge, all in Dolby HD, as Lil’-bit breaches the domain of the Sanctum Sanctorum, (known to mere mortals as the dining room), where Papa has set up ‘office’.

            Actually, dining “area” would be a better description of the space that’s filled with a double-pedestal metal desk facing the open living/play room and flanked on the left, against the wall, is a metal, two-drawer, file cabinet with Papa’s computer tower perched on top. And with that, you have a nearly complete description and inventory of Papa’s ‘office’.

            At his desk, if Papa looked to his immediate right, he would have an unobstructed view of the small but well-fitted kitchen that Nanny is always doing something wonderfully tasty in. (A woman who is capable of turning what seems like an eternity of banging, clanging, chopping and tenderizing into what is arguably the finest fare this side of eternity.) So say I, so say we all…

            At the sound of the arriving grandchild, Papa turns away from watching his beloved putter around the stove and greets Lil’-bit, who is now standing very resolutely beside the desk with an arm outstretched and holding some refugee from the toy/living room floor.

            Her countenance suggested quite earnestly, and without a single utterance, that it was most imperative that Papa takes immediate possession of this latest find from the wonderful world of the two-year-old.

            Her facial expression, alone, made it clear that it was vitally important that he have the proffered item. Vital! say her shining eyes and wrinkled little brow as she mouthed, “oooooh”, as though this one discovery, found lying amid the many toy room treasures, was by far the finest of all her many findings to date!

            In the background, Thomas and friends have broken into song just as Papa breaks into a smile and takes the refugee into his custody and care, just as he always does, and is mindful to react to Lil’-bit’s gifts from the garden  of ‘der kinder’ as though in full agreement that it is, truly, the finest of finds.

            With Papa showing the correct type, and sufficient amount, of interest and wonderment at being the recipient of the latest token, Lil’-bit spins about and makes her way back to the living/play room before Papa could even lay the now identified toy on top of some pile of something-or-other on his desk.

            He turns his attention back to his computer monitor where he begins, for the third time, to read an online article about distractions, outside noises, and the negative effects they have on a person’s productivity.

           He slowly grins to himself as he wonders if there are any others like him who can see the good in some of these distractions and ruminates to himself about the joys of working environments that provide opportunities for inspiration, even through distractions.

It should be noted here, for the record, that the brief story that opens this article was based on true events. Any, and all, similarities to actual persons or events are completely intentional and highly overt in the portrayal of a small glimpse into the day in the life of a freelance writer who has been blessed enough to work from the home trenches.

The above illustration is the perfect example of the kinds of distractions and ‘outside noises’ that surround home-based freelancers every day.

I can see old ‘Papa’ chuckling to himself, “Distractions, what distractions?” as he continues his perusal of the e-zine currently occupying his monitor.

It occurred to this student of the wordsmithing art that it is true that life is filled with potential distractions; whether at home, at work, at play or at life in general, and that it is also true that there are a number of ways one can attempt to modify, reduce, or otherwise eliminate distractions in the course of their work day.

There have been a plethora of articles written by many highly educated and talented individuals which outline numerous tried and true techniques of tackling time-wasting distractions.

And to all of those, I say Amen! and well-done.

But in reflection, and with no little amount of experience, I have found that yes, distractions are going to come, and yes, it is important how we deal with them but, more precisely, I have also come to learn that our perception of the distraction is as equally as important, if not more so than the way in which we deal with them.

It is far better to be pro-active in this by preparing your perceptions of distractions so as to minimize their impact on your focus or productivity when said disturbances rear their ugly selves.

I see them coming before they are even on the horizon by acknowledging they will come, and then choose what impact they have on me, or my endeavors, by deciding that when distraction comes, I will gain from it, in some way, by looking for inspiration, life lessons or moments to remember that can further my understanding of all the minutia that make up this thing we call living.

I refuse to walk away from a distraction feeling the guilt of having allowed it to derail whatever effort I had been undertaking, or feeling frustrated, angered, or otherwise ‘put out’,  and choose to find a way to take from it, rather than it taking from me.

This is not to say that I, as a freelance writer, haven’t put aside space, time, and set a few ‘ground rules’ around my work-a-day world to ensure timely completion of projects and a productive work environment, because I have.

It is more to say that I know I’ll be distracted at some point along the way and I choose to use it to its’ fullest potential for inspiration, observation or material, and thereby walk away a better writer for it.

If life, in all its complexities and glorious forms, brings along with it a few distractions, are we to see them as things to be controlled, minimized, avoided, and finally fought against and overcome, or can we decide to find opportunity in those unavoidable occurrences we refer to as distractions.

The decision could just as easily be to seek the positive in the distraction. Where can I find inspiration in this? What can I see, use, or understand in the simple act of a child bringing a toy to her grandfather that could be turned into a positive, inspirational lesson from the encounter?

I found myself walking away from the ‘distraction’ refreshed, inspired and satisfied at having spent those couple of minutes observing the goings on with, and around, my loved ones. I did not feel interrupted, disturbed, bothered or distracted. On the contrary, I took positive from what we have all been taught is highly negative for us.

What has the combination of my work and the oft-appearing distractions formed in me, as a writer, that shapes my writing, my ‘style’, or my ‘voice’, inspires my projects, and motivates me to succeed in my freelance endeavors? It would be difficult to calculate the full measure of the impact the two, in combination, have made in me, however, I know it is formidable.

Is distraction really such a thing to be held in such contempt? Or is it possible that it can serve as an opportunity to richer, more inspired work that can bring us to not only a new level of achievement in our work as writers but also a deeper appreciation of the ones that most matter to each of us.

Remember this:

  • The only thing we can truly control is ourselves, so decide to control how you intend to react to what others may see as negative disturbances.
  • When they inevitably come, choose to see distractions as opportunities for inspiration and observation.
  • Maximize productivity where you can, limit distractions where you can but look to learn in a creative and positive way from interruptions you can’t avoid.

You’ll find, just as I did, that you can gain traction even during times of distraction.

Just as I took the ‘distraction’ that opened this article and made a positive from it to inform and possibly inspire, you can use unavoidable interruptions to your benefit, as well.

It’s all about perceptions when it comes to distractions.

Oh, look…Squirrel!

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Lil’-bit heads back to where Papa has his “office” carrying some random item she’s picked out from the toy-strewn floor of her play/entertainment area, (what Nanny and Papa call a living room).

            In the background, Thomas the Tank Engine and his fellow trains can be heard facing another choo-choo challenge, all in Dolby HD, as Lil’-bit breaches the domain of the Sanctum Sanctorum, (known to mere mortals as the dining room), where Papa has set up ‘office’.

            Actually, dining “area” would be a better description of the space that’s filled with a double-pedestal metal desk facing the open living/play room and flanked on the left, against the wall, is a metal, two-drawer, file cabinet with Papa’s computer tower perched on top. And with that, you have a nearly complete description and inventory of Papa’s ‘office’.

            At his desk, if Papa looked to his immediate right, he would have an unobstructed view of the small but well-fitted kitchen that Nanny is always doing something wonderfully tasty in. (A woman who is capable of turning what seems like an eternity of banging, clanging, chopping and tenderizing into what is arguably the finest fare this side of eternity.) So say I, so say we all…

            At the sound of the arriving grandchild, Papa turns away from watching his beloved putter around the stove and greets Lil’-bit, who is now standing very resolutely beside the desk with an arm outstretched and holding some refugee from the toy/living room floor.

            Her countenance suggested quite earnestly, and without a single utterance, that it was most imperative that Papa takes immediate possession of this latest find from the wonderful world of the two-year-old.

            Her facial expression, alone, made it clear that it was vitally important that he have the proffered item. Vital! say her shining eyes and wrinkled little brow as she mouthed, “oooooh”, as though this one discovery, found lying amid the many toy room treasures, was by far the finest of all her many findings to date!

            In the background, Thomas and friends have broken into song just as Papa breaks into a smile and takes the refugee into his custody and care, just as he always does, and is mindful to react to Lil’-bit’s gifts from the garden  of ‘der kinder’ as though in full agreement that it is, truly, the finest of finds.

            With Papa showing the correct type, and sufficient amount, of interest and wonderment at being the recipient of the latest token, Lil’-bit spins about and makes her way back to the living/play room before Papa could even lay the now identified toy on top of some pile of something-or-other on his desk.

            He turns his attention back to his computer monitor where he begins, for the third time, to read an online article about distractions, outside noises, and the negative effects they have on a person’s productivity.

           He slowly grins to himself as he wonders if there are any others like him who can see the good in some of these distractions and ruminates to himself about the joys of working environments that provide opportunities for inspiration, even through distractions.

It should be noted here, for the record, that the brief story that opens this article was based on true events. Any, and all, similarities to actual persons or events are completely intentional and highly overt in the portrayal of a small glimpse into the day in the life of a freelance writer who has been blessed enough to work from the home trenches.

The above illustration is the perfect example of the kinds of distractions and ‘outside noises’ that surround home-based freelancers every day.

I can see old ‘Papa’ chuckling to himself, “Distractions, what distractions?” as he continues his perusal of the e-zine currently occupying his monitor.

It occurred to this student of the wordsmithing art that it is true that life is filled with potential distractions; whether at home, at work, at play or at life in general, and that it is also true that there are a number of ways one can attempt to modify, reduce, or otherwise eliminate distractions in the course of their work day.

There have been a plethora of articles written by many highly educated and talented individuals which outline numerous tried and true techniques of tackling time-wasting distractions.

And to all of those, I say Amen! and well-done.

But in reflection, and with no little amount of experience, I have found that yes, distractions are going to come, and yes, it is important how we deal with them but, more precisely, I have also come to learn that our perception of the distraction is as equally as important, if not more so than the way in which we deal with them.

It is far better to be pro-active in this by preparing your perceptions of distractions so as to minimize their impact on your focus or productivity when said disturbances rear their ugly selves.

I see them coming before they are even on the horizon by acknowledging they will come, and then choose what impact they have on me, or my endeavors, by deciding that when distraction comes, I will gain from it, in some way, by looking for inspiration, life lessons or moments to remember that can further my understanding of all the minutia that make up this thing we call living.

I refuse to walk away from a distraction feeling the guilt of having allowed it to derail whatever effort I had been undertaking, or feeling frustrated, angered, or otherwise ‘put out’,  and choose to find a way to take from it, rather than it taking from me.

This is not to say that I, as a freelance writer, haven’t put aside space, time, and set a few ‘ground rules’ around my work-a-day world to ensure timely completion of projects and a productive work environment, because I have.

It is more to say that I know I’ll be distracted at some point along the way and I choose to use it to its’ fullest potential for inspiration, observation or material, and thereby walk away a better writer for it.

If life, in all its complexities and glorious forms, brings along with it a few distractions, are we to see them as things to be controlled, minimized, avoided, and finally fought against and overcome, or can we decide to find opportunity in those unavoidable occurrences we refer to as distractions.

The decision could just as easily be to seek the positive in the distraction. Where can I find inspiration in this? What can I see, use, or understand in the simple act of a child bringing a toy to her grandfather that could be turned into a positive, inspirational lesson from the encounter?

I found myself walking away from the ‘distraction’ refreshed, inspired and satisfied at having spent those couple of minutes observing the goings on with, and around, my loved ones. I did not feel interrupted, disturbed, bothered or distracted. On the contrary, I took positive from what we have all been taught is highly negative for us.

What has the combination of my work and the oft-appearing distractions formed in me, as a writer, that shapes my writing, my ‘style’, or my ‘voice’, inspires my projects, and motivates me to succeed in my freelance endeavors? It would be difficult to calculate the full measure of the impact the two, in combination, have made in me, however, I know it is formidable.

Is distraction really such a thing to be held in such contempt? Or is it possible that it can serve as an opportunity to richer, more inspired work that can bring us to not only a new level of achievement in our work as writers but also a deeper appreciation of the ones that most matter to each of us.

Remember this:

  • The only thing we can truly control is ourselves, so decide to control how you intend to react to what others may see as negative disturbances.
  • When they inevitably come, choose to see distractions as opportunities for inspiration and observation.
  • Maximize productivity where you can, limit distractions where you can but look to learn in a creative and positive way from interruptions you can’t avoid.

You’ll find, just as I did, that you can gain traction even during times of distraction.

Just as I took the ‘distraction’ that opened this article and made a positive from it to inform and possibly inspire, you can use unavoidable interruptions to your benefit, as well.

It’s all about perceptions when it comes to distractions.

Oh, look…Squirrel!

 

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Paul D Bryant

Award winning writer, full-time publisher, poet, and content copywriter, Paul D Bryant turns his writing addiction into copy that converts, compositions that compel, and insights that instruct, inform, and entertain. You can connect with and hire Paul at his website, www.mycopypro.com.
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June 8, 2016
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