When someone is as ADD-addled as I happen to be, it's difficult to concentrate on one particular task for an extended period of time. No matter how passionate you may be about said task, thoughts always end up ricocheting around your brain in their own little game of synaptic Pinball. It can't be helped. One minute I'm on a role in exactly the right direction, the next I find myself crossing the mental median, distracted by something frivolous, completely unrelated, and/or shiny.
Having small children isn't helping matters, unfortunately. There are days I feel like I get an average of 30 seconds to myself at one time. (This overdue blog post, for instance, wasn't so much written as it was accumulated over the course of five days.) But such is life. We must either adapt to the seasons, or be doomed to frustration.
I suspect just about anyone with an artistic bent can have trouble getting back into the groove of what they're working on after being sidetracked. Once you've been knocked out of 'the zone', it can feel as though your drive and inspiration went skidding off into a separate zip code. Your time, of course, is limited. So how do you rein in your focus?
*Some find success in the readily available and ever popular mainstay: caffeine.
*Some are able to utilize a set of specific habits/rituals – either intentionally or unintentionally cultivated – which their subconscious has been conditioned to recognize as a precursor. (Not unlike a more elegant, personally tailored version of Pavlov's dog.) This method actually helps me to some extent. If I've gotten derailed too badly, I'll go make myself a cup of tea and read something unrelated while the water is brewing. At least half of the time, once I've gone back upstairs and sat down at the computer with my beverage, I find that I'm able to continue.
*On a related note, some find it helpful to take a short but deliberate 'brain break'. This may involve a walk, a drive, taking a shower, reading, or working on an entirely different project of some sort. It's amazing what a brief change of scenery can do.
*And then, there are some who can regain their desired level of function through music. While I'm not one of those people who can write while there's music going in the background, I do have success with keeping and occasionally tapping a file of melodies that fit the mood of my work. Whenever possible, I assign theme songs to my characters; it actually helps me to play their song if I'm having trouble staying true to their personality. As I'm writing different scenes, I keep an ear out for music I'd find fitting for a soundtrack(In the wildly improbable event that my book were ever made into a movie).
At the risk of sounding delusional, here are three of my top soundtrack picks for the book I'm currently revising:
Bonjovi – It's My Life (This one was just kind of obvious, it being a Memoir and all. Not to mention the fact that it ends up being referred to by name in the third chapter.)
Seabird – Don't you know (I see this coming in as cruising music for any transitional driving scenes.)
Kids In The Way – Fiction (Perfect for a particular dream sequence. Yes, as a matter of fact there IS a freaky emo dream sequence. >.>)
All of that meandering to say... I'm curious to know who else out there uses music as an auditory remedy for mental flightiness. Above and beyond that, I'd like to know what song/songs you would choose for your work, were someone to turn it into a movie. Where would they fit, and why? Go ahead – I both invite and dare you. Dream a little dream. ^_^ (i.e. Make me feel a little less weird about this!)
P.S. For those of you who do better with a brain-break than with reorienting of the musical variety, I would like to direct you to the most recent literary recommendations of a brilliant writer and workshop instructor, C.J. Redwine – God bless the ground her stilettos trod upon.