“Anywhere I Lay My Head” – The Endless Quest for “Focused Chill.”

Good evening, friends and neighbors.

Tonight I’m writing from a corner seat of The Nerd Out, which is- oddly- the right mix of quiet and busy.

My feeling has always been that if you are going to write about life, you should surround yourself with life. It’s why I do my best work in cafes and bars.

Tonight, though, it’s because I can’t get myself to relax and focus enough to write at home.

Nibbled to Death by Cats

The bakery has been absorbing more of my energy than usual as of late. On my one night off this week, I have so far managed to:

  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Eat
  • Listen to a lot of podcasts
  • Get harassed by my cat

Despite all my efforts to the contrary, sometimes having a dedicated workspace, rituals, and self-imposed deadlines is insufficient to get productive.

Especially if your cat is acting especially needy.

Animated GIF of Londo Molari and Vir Cotto from the show “Babylon 5” that says “I’m being nibbled to death by cats.”

“Those Earth creatures… webbed feet… go ‘quack.’”

It’s not just my furry child, though. Between stressors at work, reformatting the book for paperback (Note to self- get all this crap sorted out BEFORE publishing…)

(Note to YOU- Blood, Sweat, and Butter is available on Amazon Kindle!)

… and the general mayhem of life, my patience has been more than a little frayed lately. My sleep schedule of late has been regular, but off-ish.

When you work early hours, there’s only so much a blackout mask, wearing yourself out with exercise, and melatonin can do to spite the afternoon sun.

Blackout curtains are not an option. The cat likes her window.

“Focused Chill”

Creating takes energy- even if it is something not terribly physical. Mental activity takes energy as well, and can be tiring and taxing. Therefore, one needs to feel “fired up” and energized to work.

That energy needs space in which to focus, though. I need to be relaxed and able to “lose” myself in writing, or else the simple act of focusing makes it more taxing, and usually results in less-than-stellar work.

Thus, I have found I need to find/manufacture a mental “sweet spot-” where I have energy enough to write but clarity enough to focus and write something good.

I mentioned before some of the “rituals” I use to get myself in the mood to work. “Mood,” however, is a bit of a misnomer for it.

Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck in “Dune.” Caption: “Mood? Mood is not for writing!”

A better word might be “vibration.” Endless numbers of self-help books call upon the “law of attraction” and say that- to bring the things you want into your life- you need to “raise your vibrations” to that of the experiences you wish to have. If you want good things, try to expect them.

If you wish to write or create then… create a mental space where you can’t help but create.

It may require:

  • A change of scenery, such as my going out to different cafes to write.
  • Direct requests (“Hun, please play with the cat- she’s being a pest.”)
  • Changing rituals if they feel stale (I’ve recently gotten turned on to Andalusian swing/jazz instead of lo-fi chill tracks for music.)
  • Changing your work schedule to fit when you have the most energy.

“Master your Disinclination”

Apparently, Piotr Tchaikovsky hated writing the Nutcracker. He hated the story, the ideas he was having, the job… all of it. It was a commission though, and royal one at that. He cracked it out, though:

“There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest (inspiration) does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.”

How you “master” that disinclination is different for everyone, and some do it better than others. For me, the embrace of a busy cafe is sufficient. You might have your own methods/rituals.

The first step is the same either way:

Stay Classy,

The BHB's Top Hat Logo Signature

Currently reading: Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence and The Armchair James Beard

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