Embracing Distraction with Kindness: Tips for Intentional Writing

Embracing Distraction with Kindness: Tips for Intentional Writing

With my cup of coffee steaming, the notion was simple: it was the perfect morning to enjoy some creative writing. Free from any plans and distraction-free, I was excited to grab hold of the opportunity and fill the hours with blissful creative thought.

 Then my phone dinged with a text message.  

Distraction.

Becoming absorbed in responding, it quickly led to other rabbit trails of scrolling through various platforms of social media. Seeing a recipe for homemade bread, I began fantasizing over the aroma of bread baking in the oven. After all, it was a crisp, cool morning and the smell of bread baking in the oven was oh-so-tantalizing.

After mixing up all the ingredients, I left the dough to rise. Now I could settle in and get back to that creative writing my soul relished. Suddenly, I thought of how I had not heard commotion from the dogs in quite a while.  The dogs being much like small children, my nerves went on alert considering all the mischief they could be getting into. Taking a quick peek outside confirmed my suspicions. How did the dogs get into my neighbor’s yard?!? 

Distraction

Being that our 100 pound Great Dane/Black Lab mix had killed a neighborhood cat the last time he escaped our yard, I was hot-to-trot to wrangle our dogs inside. Not stopping for shoes, or even a change of clothes from my pajamas, I darted out the back door calling for our dogs. Needless to say, the rising bread dough (and creative writing) were completely forgotten.

Distraction.

While one dog was blissfully obedient, the larger Lab/Great Dane mix simply looked me dead in the eye. I swear he sported a mischievous grin. He then took off running away from me. The chase was on!

With disobedience coursing through his veins, he would neither come to his name or the word “TREAT!” Barefoot and crazed, I raced after him, deeply concerned that he would get hit by a car. Thankfully, other dogs in their backyards captured his curiosity and attention. This was all the time I needed to close in the gap, grab hold of his thick neck and collar, and usher him homeward with tail between his legs.  

Arriving home, I suddenly remembered the bread dough.  Sure enough, it had risen and overflowed its container.  I beheld an utter mess. My dreams of fragrant warm bread baking in the oven quickly began to dissipate. That creative writing draft? Well, let’s just say that was indeed an incredibly distant memory!

distraction led to overflowing of rising bread dough

Running Interference

Distractions can get us into a heap of messes, can’t they?  To think, all of the above unfolded as I sat down to work on some writing pieces. Then the phone dinged, surfing social media happened, and the thought of bread came to mind. Thus, I left my writing.  

This certainly isn’t the first time distractions have taken me away from following through with a task or the art of writing, and I certainly know it also won’t be the last. In his book, Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson writes: 

Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art describes what he calls ‘Resistance,’ a mysterious force in the world that seems to challenge every creative act…the way we have to fight an opposing force in order to bring something beautiful into the world.”

Adorning the Dark, Chapter 5, A Matter of Life or Death, pg 44

I cannot help but think how that “Resistance” could often be coined, “Distraction.”

Resistance

With distraction being something that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else, it’s no surprise how the word resistance could almost be used interchangeably. Considering the many things that are distractions and hinder the accomplishment of any creative (or non-creative) feat, it comes down to a matter of fighting against the resistance. In addition, putting techniques into place to encourage pushing through those distractions and resistance, is helpful.  Maybe it could even be considered running interference, per say.

In many ways, distractions are unwelcome and can foster agitation or result in extreme frustration. I have found that finding ways to embrace distraction has been imperative to seeking a more peace-filled life. Now, understandably, the phrase embracing distraction could be considered a conundrum in and of itself.  How do we welcome and embrace something that is so prickly and undesired? Could help come in a package of a mindset shift and the use and availability of appropriate tools? After all, when we are able to show up to the task with kindness and grace, we are then better able to extend mercy to the distraction itself.

So, how does one find their way through multiple distractions without always being a distraught, angry, bitter mess?

Communication

notifications are distractions

Communication can go a long way in helping to set healthy boundaries and preventing possible distractions. Purposefully sharing with those around me that I am taking time to write helps to prevent interruptions, guard my time, and successfully complete my writing work. Invariably, though, even with the most well-meaning communicated boundaries, I know that distractions are going to occur.  

In spite of this, I find I am certainly more accepting of these distractions and experience more flexibility when I have communicated expectations. I have discovered that all it takes is a kind reminder to the loved ones of the boundaries I set, and more often than not, the distraction is able to wait until I am to a stopping point. Likewise, making the intentional effort to leave the phone on silence (or in another room altogether) is helpful to being able to greet a distraction with kindness and adaptability. 

In addition to the above, I have found that having the right tools are helpful in navigating distractions well. When I have the right tools, I am able to gracefully make notations, accept the distraction, and then pick up where I left off in word or thought. These tools have been lifesavers in aiding my pursuit of the habit of writing.  

Tools of the Trade

As a writer, I have found that finding time to write is a complete myth. Days happen that dictate themselves and writing never happens in the frenzy of a wealth of distractions. Writing takes intentionality. In order to write with intentionality, it necessitates the carrying of the right tools wherever I go. This trick has helped bridge that gap of no time to write to making writing happen. 

For instance, I carry a notepad and pen with me wherever I go. Furthermore, I have become adept at using the Notepad app on my phone. With it, I can quickly record a verbalized train of thought. Lastly, having my Freewrite Smart typewriter (not an affiliate link, just sharing a product I love) has been a fantastic mechanism helping me write creatively with zero distractions. 

What is a Freewrite Smart typewriter? In simple terms; it’s a gateway to distraction-free writing. It is a battery-operated electronic typewriter with an e-ink screen that can be easily viewed whether indoors or out. The most incredible feature: this device is a joy to type on with an amazing keyboard!  While laptops have membrane keyboards (flat keys and compact placement), the Freewrite is designed with a mechanical keyboard. It is made up of dedicated switches for each key. One can literally feel the difference with each tap. Yet, even more than the incredible keyboard, I personally have come to love this tool for its main attraction: distraction-free writing.  

Freewrite smart typewriter is a distraction free writing tool

This is the device I turn to for collecting my thoughts and composing rough drafts. With the Freewrite, notifications are nonexistent. I can simply sit down and enter a flow state. This is a state of becoming fully immersed in my words, and unlocking my creativity. This smart typewrite provides an invitation to step into full immersion of energized focus, and full enjoyment in the process of the activity itself. Ultimately, this means that I am able to flow from one creative thought to the next. Finally, when ready, I can sync my compositions via Wifi to the Cloud or email. The drafts will be waiting in my inbox for final revisions and edits.

Distraction Met with Kindness

Transporting me back to the days of old, where simplicity appeared abundant, this smart typewriter has greatly enabled and grown my habit of regular writing. Easily transportable and with expansive storage, I can go just about anywhere with it and write. The freedom that comes from distraction-free writing is quite euphoric. I am grateful for this practical tool that helps to build upon my creative writing skills. 

All in all, when I intentionally communicate my boundaries and carry the right tools with me, I possess tactics for allowing me to embrace distraction in kindness and grace.

Stacy McClelland

Stacy is a woman with Texas roots, who, as a lover of mountains, camping, and hiking, is over-the-moon to call Loveland, CO her current home. Stacy holds a degree in Elementary Education, having spent many years in the classroom as a Special Education or Substitute Teacher. As wife to her pastor-husband for over twenty years, and mother to their three daughters, Stacy has been blessed with the opportunity to manage their home and focus on raising their girls. Partnering with her husband in ministry over the past two decades, she is armed with experiences of walking through the hardships of life with many. However, she has also had the opportunity to embrace beautiful moments of joy, grace, and overcoming with others, as well. It has been her honor and joy, as of late, to serve and teach within Bible Study Fellowship as a Substitute Teaching Leader. Coming alongside other women to read, study, learn and grow in their understanding of the Bible and how it applies to their everyday lives has been where Stacy has discovered her “sweet spot” for teaching. Having traveled many parts of the world, she yearns to come alongside, support, and edify others in and through their circumstances. She hopes another avenue for finding connection with women will be found in and through her writing. For, it is her joy in life to encourage, uplift, and connect with youth and women in navigating “this thing called life.”

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