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.

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