My life these past few days: care for sick relatives. Wake up every four hours to help administer medication. Cook soups, retrieve water, collect extra boxes of tissues. Condense an eight hour shift at work into some kind of ungodly three and a half hour race.
And all that leaves me tired out and catching a cold. It’s to be expected, and I’m already getting over it (there’s something to be said for eating heaps of Vitamin C supplements at the onset of an illness, let me tell you!). Nevertheless, I’ve had no energy to do anything besides these important duties. Anyone with a family will tell you that sick time is “drop everything else” time. But I’ve persisted at my writing work (usually when everyone’s taking a nap), and I’ve noticed something interesting.
When I’m exhausted and spaced out, I can be very capable of monotonous tasks like replacing pesky words. Something about the frame of mind I have been in has allowed me to see every instance of repeated words, bland adverbs, and importantly, spotting “it”, “was”, and “that” in my writing (some of the most frequently used words through this manuscript – eek). The fact that I was spacey enough to actually need a bright red sticky note on my monitor with those words written on it makes no difference; I just couldn’t remember if THOSE were the words I was on the lookout for unless I had a quick reference.
This has something to do with lacking the brain power to concentrate on multiple things. Yes, I’m guilty of multi-tasking, which is just code for doing everything slightly less efficiently all at once. If I can think about researching, and emailing, and maybe just quickly checking one of my online hangouts, I’ll probably do it every now and then. But if I’m too tired to even remember those things exist, I have no problem just mumbling my story out loud and finding all the things that need fixing.
Don’t get me wrong, I will be delighted when I’m over this cold. It’s the first one I’ve had in ages, and I resent it. But maybe it will teach me something valuable, if I can just figure out where to find a “quiet mode” in my brain. Because it’s not the distractions themselves that are so problematic to being productive, it’s my ability to think about them while I’m doing something else.
It doesn’t matter what it is. If I can think about it, it’s a distraction.
So I will continue to make the most of this illness and work through it, glancing to my red sticky note every now and then (noting “just” isn’t on the list for the umpteenth time), seeking out those redundancies, and finding all the times where I’ve told, not shown (he’s happy to see them? What ever made me think I could just say he’s happy to see them?).