What distractions do you use to clear your head?

Whether I’m writing or working on other things, sometimes taking a quick break to go off and do… something… can be a great way to clear your head of whatever details you’re currently tackling. It allows you to take a step back and approach the same task with a fresh mind. Obviously this isn’t something you want to do while you’re “in the zone”, but rather when you feel your “mental stamina”, if you will, becoming a little depleted.

Here are some of the things I tend to do:

  • Play a quick game of free cell
  • Go outside to play with the dogs
  • Do a bit of stretching (I should do that one more, methinks)
  • Scramble and solve my Rubik’s cube
  • Check the TV schedule and program my recorder if I want to catch something specific
  • Take a look through the online news
  • Go get a drink of water

On the other hand, these are the things I try to avoid when I want to make progress (because they could lead to spending a whole lot more time on stuff I shouldn’t be doing right then):

  • Turn on the TV “just to see what’s on”
  • Log in to my favourite game (Guild Wars 2) to see if any guildmates are on
  • Pick up a book (that one’s really hard to resist)
  • Watch stuff on youtube (it’s never “just one”!)
  • Sit anywhere where the cats like to claim your lap

How about you, fellow writers (or other creative types)? What works well for you, what do you try to avoid? Please let me know in the comments!

About Amos M. Carpenter

Web dev by day, author by night, and generally interested in (and opinionated about) way too many things.

Posted on 14 August, 2014, in Tips, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. My number one thing for a quick break is playing my ukulele. For a longer break I like playing with lego. A really quick break I’ll just make a hot chocolate and take it back to my writing.

    Unfortunately there are too many days when I end up surfing facebook, although these days I’m more inclined to read other blogs on WordPress.

    • Hmm, yeah, hot chocolate sounds good, especially when it’s cold. Ukulele and lego – interesting! 🙂 Know what you mean about browsing; even reading other blogs you tend to get lost in the details and there’s just so much stuff out there!

      Thanks for commenting, Eliza.

  2. I try to do something like play with my dog or do a bit of sketching.

    You’re totally right about staying away from TV or gaming! I won’t be going back to writing if I start those 😀

    • I’m not much of an artist (my wife is the artsy one), but I can imagine that that’d be a great thing to clear your mind, especially when you’re good enough that you don’t have to labour a few hours on a simple sketck (like I’d have to do).

      I’ve learned the hard way what I need to avoid – many hours of wasted time that I could’ve been productive down the drain. There are times when I want to do that and that’s ok, but when I don’t, I have to stop myself from starting in the first place, if that makes sense….

      Thanks for the input, Mishka 🙂

  3. Unfortunately this cat tries to stake a claim to my lap when I’m standing up! So yeh, the cat is a biggie and the six year old. Writing in school holidays is still a no-no. I’ve also reached the point where my parents need looking after, too, and I find it hard to see them struggling so there’s not usually much emotional stamina left for writing. I just pick up the scraps as and where I can.



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