In Praise of Distractions

My last post may have given distractions a bad name, but I should note more clearly that sometimes these “distractions” become the raw material for our art. For where do the ideas come from if not from the many layers of life’s experience whether or not those times seem productive in the moment?

It happens sometimes that distractions are a necessary part of the work that I am doing. When faced with a perplexing plot problem or some ill defined but vexing issue with a story, often what’s needed is simply time away from the work to process both consciously and subconsciously. A sudden turn to distractions is sometimes just an indication that I need a break. So whether it’s watching a movie, going for a hike, cleaning the house, or just staring out the window, these “distractions” can be highly productive. Too often we don’t give ourselves credit for this kind of quiet productivity.

The creative process is too complex to grasp in its entirety, and its relationship to our everyday lives, to our dreams, and yes, to our distractions, is significant. So go ahead, be distracted from time to time, give your thoughts license to stray, but know that the quality of your distractions impacts the quality of their influence.