Shiny Object Syndrome
How To Avoid Losing Out By Becoming Distracted
In the warm Atlantic, there's a fiercely aggressive predator fish known as the barracuda. Long, snake-like with a huge row of teeth, the barracuda attack their prey quickly.
A little known legend is that barracuda are attracted to shiny metal objects.
Whether this is a wives tale or reality, the point is that a shiny attractive object gets the barracuda's attention.
Like those GIF's of kittens sitting around in a basket with their head's snapping to and fro with the rhythm of an unseen object offscreen, the barracuda are thought to ignore what they were up to at the moment and follow the new shiny object.
Cute aren't they. But distracting.
Did you already forget that this post is about staying focused?
We all fall prey to it. The key is not to let it drag you into the swamp.
Rescue Your Writing From The Dragon Of Distraction
I've fallen into the trap multiple times, including recently.
This post has taken over a week just to get to through the first draft. Starts and stops and fits in between, like a tantrum-throwing kid, this post has evolved a number of times, in concept and in design.
Since my last post, I've chased around a number of solutions, tips and gimmicks from supposed gurus.
I'd bought a number of new books, watched TED talks and documentaries. I'd subscribed to a number of blogs promising how to increase my productivity and my efficiency.
I'd begun taken two new online courses, all the while looking for more courses to take.
In other words, I was chasing the shiny new object.
I stopped working on short stories.
The daily process stopped.
My editing sat unedited. The stories sat, collecting dust as manuscripts, unworked and under developed.
What did I learn?
You have to stay focused on what's important.
Or allow all your time to get sucked away into things that don't matter for the task at hand.
Basically I forgot my own lessons. I lost discipline.
Having learned how easily it is to get distracted, the biggest take away for me, is to just sit down and write.
You can't slay a dragon in one battle, or in one strike. It takes time I imagine.
Run A Marathon In Less Than 2 Hours (or at least write about it)Sunday the Rock 'n Roll Marathon was run in San Diego.
Don't worry, I didn't run it. Oh, God no.
That would be bad news. Not just for me, but for the actual runners around me.
The sweating, heart-pounding, achilles tearing disaster that my plodding knee exploding herky-jerky strain of running in a race like that would be both comical and tragic simultaneously.
I'd be laboring profusely, snot bubbles bursting from my nostrils, armpits swampy and wet, and that'd be just from the effort of standing in the crowd!
It's just not for me, so I didn't even attempt it.
But I know some people who did.
And they trained.
Some trained for years to get the stamina and endurance built up.
Others trained to get their pacing down so that they could challenge a goal.
As I wrote about the Pomodoro Technique previously, the key to productivity is make it manageable doses.
Being a writer is a lot like being a marathon runner.
If you focus on just the outcome, it seems too difficult a journey.
Focusing on the process in short durations, such as the Pomodoro Technique teaches, makes the outcome easier to accomplish. One word, one sentence at a time will produce the length and word count you eventually want.
That means, focusing on making small bite-sized portions that will help you accomplish your outcome.
And the sum becomes a byproduct of its parts.
Like a marathon runner - put one foot in front of the other and you'll become a champion eventually.