You would think that given the almost perfect conditions I have set for myself for the purpose of writing, my writing sessions must be fruitful and uninterrupted.
First, I retired from a very busy career of 33 years, which has freed up several hours per day.
… I have time!
Also, following my retirement, I have had several months to relax, catch my breath and to recharge my batteries.
… I have energy!
Given our relocation to a rural property, I can feel my mind, body and soul slowing down with every breath. The profound calm and serenity of this great location allow my spirit to disconnect from the distractions that were always present when living and working in the city.
… I have peace and stillness!
The icing on the cake is that I have a comfortable studio in our home where I have the right ambiance and all of the tools I need to make my writing dreams come true.
… I have so much for which to be grateful!
But despite the best possible working conditions to keep me focused and on track, I admit that one of the challenges that still lurks in the background is my personal fight with energy vampires.
I don’t necessarily mean the ones that can be defeated with a necklace of garlic, a crucifix and a stake in the heart. I mean the ones that hijack our time, our positive energy and our headspace, and rob us of the precious moments needed for our craft.
I realized that some games on my iPhone and iPad stirred up some compulsions to play when I should have been answering my calling to my life’s purpose. One day, in a very bold move, I deleted them and never looked back. I’m not saying that games are bad, but for me they were an ever-present temptation for falling down a rabbit hole and waking up hours later wondering where the time went… and then complain about not having enough time to write.
I also noticed an occasional vulnerability in getting sidetracked by the World Wide Web when performing research for a story or a blog post. Fortunately, I have become aware of that and can consciously set a boundary to prevent myself from taking a major detour, completely unrelated to my topic, and avoid wasting precious time.
However, I have realized that for me, the biggest energy vampire in recent years has been news coverage.
Obviously, we cannot fault news outlets for the state of the world in recent years.
But sadly, when the more uplifting stories of humanity, generosity or kindness are outnumbered by the more provocative stories of division and conflict, I can feel the emotional blank slate and positive energy that I need for writing fiction fade with every passing minute.
For me, too much news clutters mind, body and spirit, making it incredibly difficult to write.
It took time for me to notice that the days I lacked inspiration seemed to coincide or follow days that I spent more time on the news. Conversely, the days that I kept my news intake to just headlines or short updates, I seemed to have an easier time tuning in to my inner “creativity channel”.
That was when I knew for certain that the news was my kryptonite and my energy vampire.
The solution was to cut back my exposure to the absolute minimum, and then to develop awareness, boundaries and the resolve to stick to this resolution. If I want to write, I need to keep my news intake to a very small quota per day.
This doesn’t preclude the possibility of putting the writing aside when a major event is happening. I still feel I need to be informed, but not tuning in 24 hours per day to achieve that. I just have to be aware of its effect and how to get back on track.
I found that the best antidote was to keep my brain focused on a steady diet of more constructive, inspiring and positive materials. Whether that took the form of training courses for writers, good books from my ever-growing stacks, or well-written and highly recommended television series to binge watch, choosing materials that better aligned with my goals was key.
In doing so, I felt a stronger sense of inspiration, discipline and enthusiasm to get to my desk on a steady basis, rather than depleted and dragging myself around aimlessly.
Learning to deal with distractions and energy vampires is an ongoing process. We need to notice them, understand how they affect our work, establish where they fit into our list of priorities and then decide how to deal with them.
This isn’t to say that we can’t enjoy a good distraction every now and then as a welcomed break or as a moment of levity. We are human after all.
The trick is to ensure that the energy vampires don’t invade, take over our headspace, overstay their welcome and suck the life out of projects that are important to us.
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,