Moonlight Sonata

Last night was a full moon – hanging fat and white between a V in the cliffs and spreading an icy white sheen over the sea. Across the beach pinpricks of light from the head torches of the fishermen bobbed and dipped as the wearers settled down for a night catch.

Living so close to the beach and the sea creates an almost irresistable distraction for me and, as last night, just when I have a deadline to meet. Getting distracted is one of the sneakiest time thieves there is, setting up as it often does, a chain reaction. For example, last night went like this.

Gawp at the moon from office window; thinks I’ll take a photo; walks down to cliff top; takes photos; stargazes; meets one of the fishermen who gives me half a dozen good-sized dabs; walks home; makes coffee; cleans fish; freezes fish; makes more coffee; goes back to office; oops it’s now 1 o’clock and I’ve an early start tomorrow or do I mean today?

The net result, still more pressure to meet the deadline which has a knock on effect to all my other pieces of work.

Distractions and their oppo, interruptions are my bugbears. I know full well that when I need to concentrate I should avoid them like the plague – our brains don’t like it. For example, if you’re writing a story and then stop to answer the telephone or get distracted by a tweet, the brain “rules” for creative story writing, telephone answering and tweeting are all different. Every time you shift attention to deal with the interruption/distraction your brain shifts into a different mode to enable you to handle it. It takes nano seconds to do it but can lose you hours. It is the reason why we lose track, lose the character’s “voice” or have to start over each time we switch activity. Studies have shown that someone who is interrupted in a task takes 50% longer to complete it and makes up to 50% more mistakes on the way. Check out “Brain Rules” by John Medina for more info.

Still it was beautiful moonlight and come the apocalypse, I’ve a good stash of fish in the freezer to see me through. Now, where was I…?


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