On Constant Companions and Distraction (Tis the Season)
When I was younger, I smoked. It’s been twenty years now since I quit, but I still remember how much I loved smoking. (For years, I swore that once I hit my eighties I was going to take up smoking again, because at that age, who cares, right? But I no longer have any desire for it.) In response to a writing prompt recently, I wrote about how smoking had been my constant companion. The hardest thing about quitting was missing my best friend, cigarettes. They were with me always, through good times and bad, ready to soothe me whenever needed.
But when I thought about it more, I realized that my true lifelong companion has been writing. I’ve been scribbling in diaries and journals, writing poetry (that’s gone by the wayside) and reports and stories and articles and novels and blog posts and newsletters, some form of writing, all my life. Literally, since I was old enough to hold a pencil in my hand. And writing has been far more of a soothing comfort and BFF than smoking could ever have been. I’m grateful for it, so grateful.
Even constant companions get boring sometimes, though, and then it is easy to stray from them. Especially at this time of year, during the winter holidays, when everyone is shopping, wrapping presents, hanging out with family and friends, and so on. There’s a lot to get distracted by. What’s a writer to do? I just happen to have some suggestions, based on hard experience.
Remember the value. Your constant companion, be it writing or drawing or painting or knitting or lawn mowing, is important. (Okay, let’s not lump smoking into this one.) Remember, not everyone has one. This sounds dorky, but I feel like it is an honor to have one. I always have a place to go, no matter what. I have a place to go to bitch and moan, to celebrate, to laugh, to fall apart. Come to think of it my writing companion fills many of the same roles as a human companion without any of the other issues. (I will admit, I am a dedicated extrovert, so people are quite important to me as well.) And because I value it so highly, I will treat it with respect. At least most of the time.
Kaizen it. Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that advocates small improvements, baby steps at a time. So often we think we have to do all the things, all at once, when, really, we can accomplish a lot a little at a time. Like writing, for instance. Because writing is accomplished one word at a time. The trick is to honor and congratulate yourself for every teeny, tiny step you take. It will add up!
Go back to it. The cool thing about constant companions is that they are always there for you. At least constant companions of the writing sort are. Stay away from your journal for a month and it makes no judgement about you when you return. It is just there, waiting for you, ready to take up where you left off. You don’t have to explain, or apologize, or get defensive about your absence (unlikely with a human). All you have to do it pick up your pen and start again, one word at a time.
Just relax and go with the distractions. Ha! I am so terrible at this. I planned a lovely four weeks of lazing about the house after my recent hip surgery, and that lasted about four days. I can barely get myself to take a nap, or enjoy an afternoon off. I’d rather torture myself by sitting at the computer staring at a blank page than giving up and doing something else. But maybe you are better at this than me? If so, I hereby give you permission to go for it. Allow the distractions to sweep you away, and most important, enjoy it while they do. Because, tis the season, the best time of the year, so you might as well have some fun.
So, in this festive season, I hope you have a constant companion that pleases you. And I also hope that if you are neglecting it amidst the current hustle and bustle, that you are not feeling guilty about it. Because if it is a true constant companion, all the distractions in the world will ultimately not keep you from it.
Here is your prompt of the week:
The most constant companion I’ve had in my life is….
A very cool teleseminar! It is called Writing Into the New Year. I’m going to be sending out full information on this to all of you this week (if you’re not on my list, click the button to the right to join), but on January 17, my dear friend Patty Bechtold and I are doing a special expressive writing workshop. It is called Writing Into the New Year, and it is FREE! Sign up here.
France 2019—We’ve posted the information for next year’s workshop! Find all the details here. We’ve already had a few sign-ups and there’s a discount if you commit before the end of the year, so check it out now.
Coaching—I haven’t done a lot of it this past year, but I’m taking on a few new clients in January. If you are interested, email me and we will talk.
And of course, don’t forget to join the Facebook group if you haven’t already. I post lots of good links and we often have lively writerly discussions going.