dorothystewartblog

about writing and life and God

Distracted

on November 20, 2012

Anybody remember biorhythms? It was a great breakthrough when I was young and impressionable, and looking for ways to progress in my career. (Which reminds me of shoulder pads, killer heels, and climbing a ladder I later realised was propped against the wrong wall.)

The theory behind biorhythms was that each of us has optimal times of day for working as well as dip times – which aren’t our fault cos they’re pre-determined by our biology. This, of course, explains why some of us simply need to be left alone after four o’clock, preferably with a pot of tea and a plate of dark chocolate digestives (or fruit scones, see below).

Fruit scones from the Marlesford Farm Cafe which does the best breakfasts in the universe

Earlier, there was the theory of larks and owls. Larks are the folk who wake up already mentally girded and ready to go. Bright as a button, these people do their best work in the morning. Owls are the folk who can party – or write – late at night, when the house is dark and quiet and everyone else is sound asleep.

Add to these typologies the crepuscular: like my cats who come alive at dusk and dawn, miaowing loudly to be fed.

I have a vague memory that at one stage in my life, I thought I was a lark. (Or was that an owl? It was very hard not to at least try to be an owl at university in the late sixties.)

Whatever, as the saying goes.

It’s certainly sure and true that we have patterns – times when it’s easier to settle to our work. And for me I think that’s morning. Straight after breakfast.

Of course, it may be that my biorhythms etc. have nothing whatsoever to do with my ability to start writing after breakfast. It could simply be that if I can steer myself to the laptop on the dining table immediately after I’ve cleared away the breakfast things, I can blinker myself to any alternatives lurking outside the dining-room door. Out of sight, out of mind.

It’s like Monopoly: Go to Jail, Do not pass Go! If I can get to the keyboard without passing anything distracting, I’ll be fine.

But working from your own home guarantees a multitude of distractions. So despite great theories and typologies, I’m reckoning it all comes down to something unavoidable: self-discipline. One more essential skill for the writer – and like the other craft skills we need to develop, this one strengthens with practice too.

But first I have to hide the Sudoku and that novel I was reading and….

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5 responses to “Distracted

  1. I love the idea of not passing go on the way to my computer. Also not passing the internet on my way to opening my writing files!

  2. Helen Murray says:

    I think we should bring back biorhythms. They might explain why I am excessively grumpy first thing in a morning, and why I always fancy an early afternoon nap. But could they explain away the fact that I write better when accompanied by a packet of biscuits?

  3. Hilary says:

    I still have a biorhyrthm programme on my computer and occasionally when things look very lumpy I check to see why. McVities Digestives.

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