Thursday, 5 February 2015

Oh where oh where did my concentration go?

I used to be really good at concentrating. I used to be able to give myself a task and set my mind to it, and then spend a good period of concentrated time, focussing on the task and nothing else.

When I used to write, I could often go for several hours. I could easily knock out well over a thousand words in a session, and often twice as much. To be honest, anything below 1500 would really be regarded as sub-par.

Similarly so for when I used to read a lot. I could spend hours lost in a good book. Seems like I never had trouble spending a whole day, happily relaxed on a couch and lost in the plot.

These days, things are really different. Whenever I do devote some time to a book, I always find myself getting impatient. I always want to jump ahead to see what happens next, rather than be content to find things out when it's time to find them out. Sometimes, I even (shock horror) don't get around to actually finishing the book.

When it comes to writing, things are even worse. Gone are those marathon sessions when I could churn out several thousand words. These days, a good writing session is (sob) 500 words. That's right, a mere 500. And even that seems like a battle. I'm constantly checking word counts, to see if I've reached that magical number. Maybe I'll rearrange a sentence to make it a bit wordier, just so I can up the count. And when I do get to my 500 for the day, it's always with a great sense of relief that I save the document and shut it down. Look at me. I've achieved my writing goal. It may be kind of puny, but at least I've achieved something.

I'm not even sure who I'm supposed to blame for this sad loss of concentration. Is it because I'm getting older, and my brain finds it harder to focus on things for extended lengths of time? Is it the stress of my work, which forces me to spend most of my day on a computer, thus dramatically reducing my tolerance for off-work screen time? Is it family, and the constant distraction it brings? Is it the internet, with its whirl of redundant information constantly being thrown in my face? Or is it simply the stress of dealing with modern life, with all its complexities?

Whatever it is, it can be damn frustrating. I yearn for the old days, when I was able to get so much done, and writing wasn't a battle to steal short snippets of time.

In the meantime, I think I've spent long enough writing this post, so goodbye.