Like everyone, I've had a bit of trouble concentrating recently. You know, lots of stuff happening. I've been trying to wrap up the first draft of The Shattered Skies and I'll admit, it's been tough. I was cruising through this manuscript, cranking three or four thousand words a day without breaking a sweat, and then all of a sudden I wasn't.
Instead I was obsessively checking newsfeeds, obsessively hunting stores for pasta and rice, obsessively refreshing my Twitter and Facebook feeds. None of it was helping me focus on work. It was all pretty goddamn stressful, if you want the truth of it. Not just the end of the world, but the way it was interfering with my deadline.
So yesterday I took some time out. I dipped into my copy of a pre-release book I've been sent, The Organised Writer, by Antony Johnston. You may know Antony, you may not. But you would know his work. He's prolific.
This is one of his...
I promised him I'd look at an early copy of his new book and give him a cover quote if I liked it. I did like what I initially read, but then, you know… The end of the world got in the way.
By happy coincidence I put down The Organised Writer just before the most useful chapter, so when I returned to it yesterday it was like a cool drink of water in the desert; a discussion of how important it is to keep your mind clear at the start of the day.
I have not been doing this of late because, you know, the end of the world and everything.
This morning then, I took Antony's advice and cut myself off from all distraction. You might think that's something I do every day, but not like this. I refused to read the news, to check my email, to listen to the radio in the car, to play a podcast, to do anything that might suck me into the vortex that the whole world is currently disappearing down.
It was a merciful release. It's just after 5 o'clock now and I first checked today's news about half an hour ago. I stopped after a couple of minutes. It was super fucking stressful. Because of course it was. Nothing is getting better. It's only going to get worse for a considerable time yet.
The information I needed, I mostly already have. Stay the fuck home. Wash your damn hands. I'm not going to apply for any of the relief packages of programs the government is putting together so I don't need to stick my head into the cyclonic howling shit show of their massive incompetence – which is a relief, really.
There is likewise nothing to be gained from social media. In many ways it's less horrific than normal, because people are making an effort to pull together. That's nice. But going there means diving deep into the end of the world again. And frankly, I'm over it.
So I worked on my book, I'm writing this blog post, I'll write another one, and now I'm going to go check my email.
If you are feeling desperate, anxious, whatever, I suggest you try take a break from the news yourself.
I will provide appropriately distracting content on the morrow.