The Need for Blinders

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I’ve decided I need a heavy-duty pair of horse blinders, like the ones horses wear while pulling a carriage. I don’t much like the idea though. I’ve always thought it a bit mean-spirited, actually, blocking the horse’s view of all the cool stuff around him. But I’m starting to see their value. Blinders narrow the field of vision and block distractions, providing focus and making the road ahead clearer and easier to follow. 

Frankly, I could do with a few less distractions. If you’re a writer–or anyone else pursuing a creative endeavor–you know the world conspires against us. Some days, sunshine and balloons and laughing children entice us to come out and play. At other times, heartache and tragedy beg at the side of the road, beseeching us to reach out and help. How can we turn a blind eye? 

Sometimes we have to, for a little while. 

I’m not saying we should ignore the important things and people in our lives. But if we’re not careful, the endless needs—and even fun opportunities–will suck us in and steal every minute of our time. At the end of the day, we realize we never got to the hard work of doing what we’re most passionate about. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield puts it this way: “The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.” 

The urgent will never stop clanging for attention. I will not wake up tomorrow without any concerns or worries weighing on my mind. That’s good, because it means I’m connected to people I care about and causes I’m passionate about. But it does mean I have to make friends with those blinders I hate. I’ll have to use them to bring the focus I need, so that when I disappear into my writing cave for a little while, I can tell the story only I can tell.

Grab your own blinders and join me. I’d love to hear how you beat distractions.

PS–I think I’ve finally got the “subscribe” button working, so if you’d like to get my blog delivered right to you, sign up at right. Thanks so much!

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    The Conversation

  1. P.L. Parker says:

    I have no luck ignoring distractions. My trick is to go with the flow – return to the mainstream as much as I can even though life’s little problems seem to divert my attention. I’m a good multi-tasker.

    • Connie Mann says:

      I admire good multi-taskers. I seem to have a hard time doing that well. But I also know if I get upset by every distraction, I’m even further from getting anything done. 🙂 I’ll keep trying, though.

  2. This blog post hit home, I’ve live with a constant battering of distractions at my creative door. Some days it’s easier than others – but I’ve getting up early to enjoy the solitude before the day really kicks in to get some of my thoughts written down.

    And I subscribed in google reader – seems to be working! 🙂

    • Connie Mann says:

      Seems like a constant battle, doesn’t it? If I can get myself up early, that works really well for me, too. Some days, though, that’s half the batttle. Thanks for sharing–and thanks for subscribing.

  3. I’ve been struggling with this, too. Every evening I promise tomorrow will be different…and then I start the next day by going online. UGH! Gotta stop. 🙂

  4. Gary Balser says:

    Since you know me so well, then you know my life is a multi-task. I have been good at doing that for many years, but it becomes difficult to really focus for any period of time. I’m talking more than ten minutes. In December I was challenged by my Pastor to spend one hour each day with no distractions on my reading, being a journalist/blogging, and praying. Wow that has opened the focus on the rest of the day more than you would ever imagine. I can see tasks being completed the FIRST time.

  5. Leslie Santamaria says:

    This is so helpful! I can edit in the midst of chaos, but to create I have to block out all distractions and get “in the zone.” Lately, the best blinder I apply is getting out of my home office. In a public space, I can block out what’s going on around me so much better than at home. Go figure. 🙂

    • Connie Mann says:

      Isn’t it weird how we can do that in public? I’m the same way. Has to be quiet at home to get in the zone. But at the library or a coffee shop? No problem. So sneak away, my friend. And happy writing–in public! 🙂