Concentrating Where You Can

how to write, book publishing, beneath the coverWrite where you can. When you can. However you can.

I admire folks who can continue to concentrate whatever the situation.

In my many years as a journalist for a big newspaper I needed to be able to concentrate amid the noise of a newsroom (that noise is lessened now that most people arrange appoints via email, and spend less reporting time on the phone). I’m writing this in the waiting area of Lake Charles Airport, where our flight from Houston made an emergency landing after turbulence shook the plane, injured some passengers (and gravely hurt a flight attendant). One of those long, long, long nights that will turn into day by the time we arrive at our destination.

But everyone pulled out laptops, tablets, smart phones and more to communicate with their loved ones, update their Facebook status (guilty as charged). Some even started working.

I remember that a friend of mine, sitting near the mystery writer Michael Connolly on a flight, noticed him scribbling away. Good for him. He’s a terrific writer, an excellent novelist and obviously, after having trained as a journalist, has learned how to pay attention to what needs to be done despite the environment.

I don’t know what he might have been writing – perhaps a Harry Bosch novel – although the confines of a plane (one not beset by turbulence, one assumes) is perhaps more conducive to creative writing, especially if you’re sitting in business class or above.

At this moment, in the restive waiting area of an airport far form the final destination everyone had hoped to reach hours earlier, a waiting area where people begin to chat more and more, and louder and louder, as the waiting grows longer and longer, there are pockets of concentration amid the conversation.

Still, it’s a rewarding exercise, trying to concentrate and get something done while other things seem to want to distract you.

I urge you to try it. Without wishing you to board a plane that destined to be grounded.

Concentration involves a few simple things:

  • Tuning out the distractions
  • Tuning in to your work
  • Considering the noise around you as background sounds

If you’re at home and looking for a way to do this, perhaps you might start by either putting on non-distracting music to drown out the random noises around you, or turning off your email or web browser, so you aren’t tempted to check what’s going on everywhere else but where you’re supposed to be: creating.

Good luck. But you’ll do good work when you make an effort to concentrate, rather than give in to distraction.

I’m waiting for my flight. But I’ve managed to be just a little productive in the meantime. Still, the airline just delivered pizza to us weary, hungry passengers. And even the best of us break down at that.

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One Response to “Concentrating Where You Can”

  1. Anonymous June 22, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    It’s a great practice! (and I’m so glad your flight turned out well!) I work at home with two young kids, and if I waited to the perfect conditions I would never get anything done. 

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