I enjoy watching the Food Network. I am not particularly domestic myself, and I marvel at the creativity of these chefs and bakers. They come up with the most amazing combination of flavors, and gorgeously decorated cakes and cookies without much time to think about what they’re going to create.
And I guess enough of that domesticity rubs off on me every few years that I get it in my head that I can bake cookies too. I don’t expect them to be nearly as amazing as what are made on the Food Network. As long as they don’t taste horrible, I’m OK with that.
So I recently spent a couple of days doing some holiday baking. I don’t have any kind of mixer, so I had to mix all the dough by hand. I don’t have cookie cutters, so I had some rings from some mason jars that I used instead. Yes, I could go buy some, but why spend money on something I’m not going to use again for another few years?
The cookies turned out fine. They actually taste pretty good, though they’re too unattractive to be brought to any family gathering. My parents will get some because they’re forgiving, and we’ll have a grand laugh about it while we’re enjoying them.
We’ll have a bigger laugh about how I managed to pull a back muscle from rolling out cookie dough.
I have skills!
That was on day one, and I still had another day of baking to do. The dough was made. It couldn’t wait.
As I’m standing there, putting more cookies in the oven, my back killing me, I kept thinking how I couldn’t wait to get back to my desk, my computer, my writing.
A side note – Let’s be honest, sitting at my desk and writing is more than likely the reason I twisted funny and pulled a muscle while rolling out cookie dough.
As my back was burning, I wondered why I had chosen to take two days of writing time for baking?
Watching the Food Network baking shows might have been what pushed me to take action, but really, I wanted the cookies. They were my favorites growing up. My mom doesn’t do much baking any more, so it’s down to me. And every now and then, I just need a taste of my childhood.
I welcomed the distraction from writing, because baking gave me a sense of accomplishment that I don’t get from my day-to-day novel writing endeavors.
I’m usually satisfied with my daily word count. There are times, though, when I do feel like I need a concrete, visual, sense of having achieved something. A finished product. A tower of containers filled with cookies. It’s something tangible.
That need to have accomplished something is the biggest reason we allow ourselves to be distracted by cleaning, playing games, baking, spending time on social media, and checking the little, unimportant items, off our to-do list.
We all need to eat. A clean living space is necessary. There is nothing wrong with playing games and scrolling social media. If the items on your to-do list didn’t need to be done at some point in time, they wouldn’t be on your to-do list.
Determine when it is a distraction and when it is necessary. The first question to ask, in order to know what’s going on, is: Can it wait?
Can those items on your to-do list wait until after you’ve written? Until tomorrow? Can you write a few hundred words before you go on social media? Can the dishes wait an hour? Sometimes they can, sometimes they can’t.
Also ask yourself if you are doing these things to avoid writing. Especially those small items on the to-do list. We think if we just get those done first, then we’ll have time for writing after. The problem is that usually those small things lead to more small things which take more time. Do they really need to be done first? Or are you making them a priority so you don’t have to write?
Distractions are all around us, especially during the holiday season. We don’t have to give in to them. Get what you need from those activities, you will feel refreshed and motivated. Let them take over your day, let them keep you from your writing entirely, and you will feel drained, unmotivated, and like you don’t have the energy to write.
If you need to take time away from your writing, especially if it is because you want to feel like you’ve accomplished something within a few hours or a day or two, then do so. Take some time to figure out exactly what it is that you need to do. I’m ecstatic I have have my cookies in my freezer. It gave me what I needed and now I’m ready to get back to writing.
What is your biggest distraction from your writing?