These last two or three years, getting distraction-free time I’ve found to be both a frustration and a challenge. Time to focus on creative pursuits has been something I’ve always been able to manage in the BC (Before Children). There are also some activities, such as writing, which I need to be engaged in as part of my personality, but which seem stymied by an environment which precludes concentration.
It also occasionally seems frustrating if I’m tempted to contrast “my time” with work. The office environment at The Day Job is engineered towards focus, a quiet place where the day’s task gets done. At home, in contrast, parenting is the primary focus, where it’s either time spent engaging with our young kids or else, it seems, trying to think straight while they have some noisy playtime of their own. Once the hours spent commuting or preparing for the day are subtracted, it feels like there’s hardly more than a pair of moments left to rub together.
Or so it seemed.
In this blog I’ve spent some time talking about motorcycling and flying. For me, these activities are about focus – they’re a chance to quit worrying about or planning the future, or reviewing the past, and simply live a hundred percent in the moment. There’s little room for daydreaming or spare thinking.
And so it was that through an odd transition from flying to motorcycling that has led to a workable writing schedule again. Flying is something that might only take a few hours once a month, so it’s an easy way to take time off from the family and get that focus. And realise just how important focus is.
But flying’s occasional – in my situation it’s not something I can engage in every day (nor, I think, would I want to – I think it would lose some of its romance were it to devolve into a day job). Motorcycling, though I’d argue to be substantially more risky, is an activity involving focus which can be done more regularly – whether on the weekend for a ride in the hills, or daily for a commute to work.
So I commuted a few times.
And hated it.
Well, I was riding the bike, so that was somehow intrinsically fun. But dealing with traffic jams, bad drivers, weather and having to dress in all the kit (or risk the consequences without) were serious detractors. And despite knocking thirty minutes off the commute every day when compared to public transport, it was also stressful.
So I packed the writing laptop into the bag and wrote on the bus.
And loved it.
So whether or not the current writing develops into the novel I’d like it to be, or simply becomes much needed practice and writing time, it feels good to be engaging in that activity again.