The Distractions of Organizing

mark-twain-at-desk
Somewhere, someone has designated today National Clean Off Your Desk Day.

This is according to checkiday. Personally, I could use a month (or two… or three).

It’s a good idea to clear the decks periodically. Unfortunately, when I do this, I usually end up revisiting stuff I’ve put aside for “later consideration.”

This is not a new characteristic for me. When tasked with cleaning my room as a child, I usually ended up finding a beloved book under my bed that I just had to reread – right then. This meant that tidying my room usually took all day (if I was lucky).

When I clean my desk of paper or electronic files, I still get distracted. There’s that scrap of paper with an idea for a new blog post! There’s the notebook with scribbles for a Christmas story! There’s an old newspaper clipping about September 11, 2001. There’s the project file for a graduate class.

This isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes I trip across just the right item I’ve forgotten about that proves useful right then.

Cleaning my desk – getting rid of things I don’t need any more and properly filing the things I do – saves me time in the long run. I don’t end up plowing through debris to find what I need when I need it.  On the other hand, a bit of chaos is the spice of life.

When I worked for a newspaper, we used to joke that that my desk was a transfer station and the senior news editor’s desk was the landfill (which I inherited when I took the post). I just can’t have a clean, neat desk. It’s just not in me.

But I am determined to decrease the piles substantially. Now all I have to do is to steel myself against all those temptations!

5 Tips to Push Through the Writing Wall

man-304289_1280There are some days, as a writer and editor, I just don’t want to do any more – not write one more sentence, not clean up one more paragraph.

When I’m in the zone, I don’t even notice the hours flying by. But, like life in general, it’s not always that way.

Sometimes, writing makes me feel so vulnerable. Sometimes the subject is extremely emotional and it’s hard to make sense. Sometimes untangling huge snarls of another’s writing is exhausting, but there’s a deadline looming.

It’s important to not give up. Luckily, there are ways to pump up our resilience.

  • Take a five-minute mental vacation. Get up and get a cup of coffee. Ponder an upcoming holiday, event, or vacation. Sit back and go to your “happy place.” Just make sure you go back to work after the five minutes are up.
  • Make it into a game or contest. Challenge yourself to write a page in a half hour or five pages before lunch. When I edit, I see how many sentence structure and grammar errors I can correct in an allotted time span. Reward yourself if you achieve the goal. (Cookies or cheese works for me!)
  • Do some planning. This is especially helpful when writing. It lays down a direction you can follow when literary trees fall across the road.
  • Cut out distractions. We are all experts at chasing squirrels when we should be sticking to the task at hand. Don’t give yourself any excuse.
  • Post a “This, too, shall pass” sign where you can see it when you’re working.

Resilience is what separates the successful from the wannabes.

One Way to Survive Word Overload

I am in word overload.

I am oppressed by of end-of-semester insanity coupled with the pressures of the holidays. I struggle to dig out of an endless mountain of poor writing sprinkled (thank every deity in existence!) with sparkling gems of excellence. (Just call me Wordy, the eighth dwarf.)

I, who love woword overloadrds with a love that can never die, am suffering the sanity-threatening effects of writing overdose. The caffeine IV barely keeps me going. I’ve been hallucinating about dancing wine glasses and sweetly sweating rum and cokes.  And I don’t drink (much).

“Come away from the keyboard! Come away! Leave those whining words and cuddle in our warm, mind-soothing embrace!”

Their seducing siren calls swirl inside my brain as I diligently mend a sentence fragment.

“No. No!” I cry with halfhearted determination. As if it isn’t hard enough resisting distractions on a normal day! I will finish what I need to do. I will cross off all of today’s tasks on my list. I will push through with all I’ve got until I am finished. I will!

Oh, yes. I will sip my glass of wine, but not until everything is done – soon, very soon!