Bejeweled and Other Distractions

I think most writers are procastinators. I mean, more than likely there are some people that can work without a deadline, finish articles and manuscripts without downing tankloads of caffeeine, but for the most part, in my experience, writers can fill books with the distractions that take them from writing.

It’s one of the reasons #NotWriting is as popular a hashtag on twitter as #AmWriting.

Some distractions are generally worse than others.

See, if you go on Facebook or Twitter, at least you are wasting time doing different things. You check on some good friends. You look at some funny cat memes. Maybe post something to an author’s group or give feedback on someone’s article. You can even justify the time you waste as some sort of professional growth.

“I’ve been on Facebook for two hours, but I read Neil Gaiman’s blog! And I posted on a forum about procrastinating! Plus, I just found my favorite author on Twitter and he had, like 5,000 tweets about my favorite book! It was like being in a literature class!”

Then there’s Bejeweled Blitz.

Bejeweled is one of the more sinister distractions. First off, unlike Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, you don’t actually get anywhere. It’s the same board, same jewels falling from the same mysterious sky into the same grid. Your points get higher (or tragically lower) each time you play, but nothing else really changes. And the worst part? Each game is only a minute long.

Sixty seconds.

You even get a reminder at 30 seconds.

What makes that so evil is that your mind tells you that the game is so short. It’s one minute! Everyone needs a break, right? But that’s just the start. It’s never one minute. It’s never just one game. You keep restarting, either to match that last high score, recover from the last embarassing score, or just to hear that deep, sexy, electronic, Christian Grey say, “One minute.”

At one point I wasted a good 45 minutes trying to match up those falling gems (but, for the record, I had a high score of 542,00).

It’s easy to say just get rid of your distractions, pop some adderall, do SOMETHING and focus. But the reality is our culture is defined by distractability. It creeps into every part of our lives. The idea of actually doing one thing at a time is almost foreign. I still can’t believe people buy watches. It’s such a single-function tool. Five years ago you would never hear this conversation:

“What time is it?’

“I don’t know. I don’t have my phone.”

When did non-sequiturs start becoming logical?

You don’t need to search for distractions, and you probably can’t eliminate them. But you can get some perspective. I recently removed virtually all my mindless games from my cell phone (don’t worry, they are still on my iPad, just for safe keeping). I turn off my phone whenever I sit down to write. I no longer write in the same room as the TV and I never actually watch a show at the time that it is on. Get yourself DVR and the shows that you can’t miss won’t be missed.

It’s a slow process but it keeps those 45 minute Bejeweled Blitz games to a minimum.

After matching the gems, exploding the birds, and getting the candy to Om-Nom, all you will have is a virtual score and strained eyes. Spend the same time working on a manuscript, editing your article, or reading and you will be so much more ahead of the game. And you will have something tangible that will put you closer to your dream.

But you know that already.

So put down the game and get working.

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