This might sound kind of braggy but a dead squirrel has been laying right near the deck door for three days. I didn’t kill the squirrel. My cat killed the squirrel and, to be honest, I’m ashamed of her even though I know she’s just doing what nature intended her to do. Nature intended me to be a freelance writer (I think it was nature because it wasn’t all that intentional on my part) and I’m getting better and better at it because that dead squirrel is not distracting me.
It’s kind of a breakthrough.
In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott says that when she started writing she was distracted by dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. She’d start to write, think about the dishes, and get up to wash them. She claims that, after years of writing, she is so disciplined that even if dead bodies were piled in the sink she'd keep working. (I’m pretty sure that’s from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life . Like 87% sure. I’m positive it’s Anne Lamott. 99%. Maybe 98%.)
I’m not at dead-bodies-in-the-sink level yet. Even if I was on a deadline, had 150 email responses to write, and was prepping for a meeting I would tend to the dead bodies first. That’s just basic hygiene.
I’ve worked my way up to ignoring dead animals by training myself to ignore the dryer buzzer, the FedEx man, the UPS man, the USPS woman, the propane delivery guy, the very earnest VPIRG kid, phone calls from “Unknown number” and all sorts of thoughts that stray into my head as I struggle to compose a sentence. Should I just bake for the school trip sale now since I can’t think of a headline anyway? Why not fold the laundry and then start the next load? Ooh! Tires sounds in the driveway! Maybe I'll see if there's a package. And then I'll open it. And then I'll inspect or try on or assemble whatever is inside. And pop any bubble wrap before the kids get home and beat me to it.
Distractions are POWERFUL. They pester and nag and tease. Be strong. Remember that no one pays you to pop bubble wrap. (If ony.) Visualize yourself working late into the night to make up for lost time. Compartmentalizing your work life and home life is one of the keys to self-employment success and…
That’s it. The squirrel has to go. And I need a cookie.
Thank you for reading I am the Boss of Me. To receive email notification of new posts click here.