Well my friends, here we are: the last of the baseline checks. Once we fight through this final round we just might be ready to face the monsters in the Sea of Distractions. We must celebrate the fact that we are one step closer to Rescuing the Muse. This last section ties in with all of the previous ones. It’s all about identifying your weak spots and finding a way to combat them.
What are the things that get in your way? What stops you from creating? Sometimes these distractions can be herculean: perhaps you get sidetracked by your own insecurities or an old injury that makes your passions feel impossible. Sometimes your biggest foe will be tiny stolen moments that sap your mental energies before you get a chance to let they flourish: maybe you pop onto Facebook for just a minute and find yourself mindlessly scrolling.
What do you fill up your time with? Is it worth it? Is it the kind of thing you truly want to cultivate? And if you don’t: how bad do you want to change? You see, that’s always the real kicker for me. I can usually identify my bad habits pretty easily. I know exactly where my time gets sucked, or what pits I can trip into. Trying to break the habits that bring me into those negative spaces: not as easy. It’s not even always about willpower; for me, most of my distractions stemmed from coping mechanisms I picked up when I was dealing with my own personal traumas. I relied on them until they grew unwieldy and far more powerful than I was. Putting that genie back in the bottle hasn’t been all that easy.
So, to dive into the baseline: what are my distractions? Number one on my list: sounds. I know, that seems silly, but let me explain. When I was dealing with my own personal issues and anxieties I became deeply uncomfortable with silence. It created too much space to think. Space to think meant ruminations Ruminations often slipped back into the darker places I wasn’t ready to process. So I filled the silence. Sometimes it was a tv show I wasn’t even really watching, or music. Most often it was audiobooks. I used the stories of others to drown out my own inner voice. Which worked for it’s intended purpose: it stopped my brain from ruminating. But it also stopped my brain from doing all the other things I loved- like telling my own stories. This has been a particularly difficult habit to break for a multitude of reasons. For one, filling my head with sound was an easy way for me to control my thoughts and anxieties; so turning down the volume was terrifying. And I’ll be honest, at first it was deeply uncomfortable because all of those thoughts I wanted to silence came screaming back in Dolby Atmos. But little by little, I’ve learned to be more comfortable with myself.
The other reason it was so difficult: I just flat out love books in any format, and forcing myself to put in limits just went against my nature. I have a TBR that is almost panic-inducing it is so large, plus I tend to get exceptionally competitive with myself. Trying to step back from my reading goals (which are heavily dependent on audibooks) went against most of what I believe in. I will be honest: I still struggle with this one. A lot. It’s a constant balancing act, and I don’t always succeed with it. I have some weeks where I am great, and other weeks where my other half has to remind me that earbuds aren’t for bedtime anymore. The struggle is real.
My other distractions: social media, playing on my phone, making lists of projects I have no intention of completing. I’ll be honest: most of my other bad habits are actually under control for the most part at the moment. Occasionally I find myself going down a social media rabbit hole- I set up a few timers which made a world of difference. I am a sucker for list making- I don’t know why I am like this, to be honest. I guess I’m a bit of a nerd, considering I get a little thrill out of spreadsheets and stats. Wow I sound old and boring when I say that. Anyway, I noticed that one of my bad habits is focused on over-planning and never-doing. I’ll make lists, plots, plans- get very detailed with every step…and then…nothing…happens. I just drop it. Until the next time I decide I need to make a list. I have one for everything- house projects, weekly chores, things I want to learn, meal planning, my ongoing TBR list (seriously- it is categorized and everything, has different tabs based on what format it’s in, whether I’ve finished it, given up on it. It even has notes on how many pages and estimated time it will take to read. Like I said: I have a problem with using lists as distractions).
Overall I think I have a good idea of where I slip up in this area. I know exactly what to look out for. To help combat my little book fixation, I’ve begun peppering in ones that will lead me back to my creative projects. I’ve been picking ones that will teach me specific skills, talk about creativity itself, or spotlight a person I find inspirational in these new fields I am interested in. That way I can get lost in a chapter, but feel the natural pull towards my own projects when it’s done.
My score: 6/10
- Draw a cartoon of your distractions (they can be monsters, or the main character can be you- and all the ways you get sidetracked from one tiny task you want to complete)
- Pick up your journal and do a deep dive into your own distractions. List out at least two creative solutions to help you combat each one
- Craft an interpretive dance that depicts the struggle you have over your own energy (see- now we’re truly embracing our creativity)