“A definite purpose, like blinders on a horse, inevitably narrows its possessor’s point of view.” Robert Frost
Horses have their eyes on the sides of the heads. They wear blinders to keep them focused on the task at hand, and not startled or distracted by objects or movement in their peripheral vision. Whether this is annoying to the horse, I have no idea. But, if not dealt with, distractions have the potential to kill my writing. I can’t imagine wearing physical blinders (yes, blinders for people are a real thing), so I have to come up with other methods. For the physical distractions: work at the library or the coffee house. At home, temporarily put all the piles of stuff currently on the desk and not related to the current project in another room. Take Freecell off the computer, or at least hide the icon. Like the horse, out of sight, out of mind, works for me.
For the mental distractions: make a list of must-do’s so I’m not wrestling with the fear of forgetting something crucial, then put that list on the piles of stuff in the other room. Otherwise it just becomes one more distraction. I mean, it has to be the perfect list, right? Plus, if it’s in front of me, the temptation is to keep adding to it, re-arranging, perhaps ticking off just the one item. Deadlines help, as does having a critique or writing partner. Most important, I must learn to ignore the thoughts that push into my brain. You know the ones. I’m not good enough. This idea isn’t good enough. I should be working on a more substantial project (which somehow also never gets done). One way I handle those is to remember how important writing is to me. Too important to let one more day slip by without making progress, without producing something, without getting better at my craft, and way, way too important to let my doubts, fears and lack of confidence destroy my dream. When I’m truly focused on my goal, distractions magically vanish. They come roaring back, of course. But at least for those moments, I have won.