So I was doing my CME to maintain my state medical license, and I come across a question that starts like this:
“You are called to the emergency room at 11 PM on New Year’s Eve…”
I sat on that question for probably 20 minutes as flashbacks flew through my head. Maybe it’s because I have ADHD. Personally, I think it’s more PTSD. Or maybe this happens to everyone. I don’t think so, because not everyone has to take the board exam 4 times.
Starting a question in that manner is like setting off a string of BlackCats next to a Vietnam Vet who is about to undergo psychological testing. I’m sure every physician can remember being called at 11 PM (except dermatologists, but even they probably were called to the ER at 11 PM during the medical school clinical rotations, which I can *guarantee* is why they went into dermatology. Don’t get me wrong. I respect dermatologists. Anyone who can discern between the 7 types of melanoma has my respect. Or is it 8?), and *everyone* has a story about their 11 PM calls. I suspect people who write questions like these are those who have repeated their stories to others (medical students, residents, colleagues, relatives, friends, strangers on the street, etc.) so many times that they are running out of outlets to tell their stories. Hence, they write exam questions.
I know one signs (or clicks on a box to) an agreement not to talk about board questions (because even CME questions are prior board questions) outside of the exam or the copyrighted CME, but dis-board me if you wanna (I’m not certified yet, even though I passed.). It’s still a shitty way to start a board question.
Anyway, distractions are what caused me to have so much trouble with finishing my current manuscript. It was sitting on my hard drive since about 2005 or so. Of course, I was going through residency at the time, so I had good reason to be distracted, but even so, I have found it really helps me to simply get “unplugged.”
Here are a couple of things that help me get “unplugged” (and some things I am considering spending money on to get “unplugged”):
1. PRINT IT OUT
Back in December of 2011, when I was editing for a friend, I came across a neat article called “On the Death of Foul Matter” by Stephen White. It used to have some really neat pictures of his foul matter, but I think he has since taken them down. No matter! Below, I post a picture of mine from my most recent first revision:
I was really struggling towards the end of December with switching gears from writing to revising. It really is a whole different ball-game. But, then I read Holly Lisle’s One Pass Manuscript Revision guide, and in it, she recommends first just PRINTING IT OUT. On paper. Hard copy.
And that was the ticket. No distractions from the internet. Just your book and you, in all its ugly unedited glory. There was something very satisfying (and painful) about crossing out whole sections, or writing in the margins. Or circling. Or drawing little arrows. I got my first revision done in 2 weeks. It’s still a piece of crap, but it got done.
2. HAND WRITE
One of the rules of Fast Draft is there are no excuses. Your house is burning down, your toddler just swallowed a button battery, your dog is dying. You still find time to write. Some variation of all three of those happened during the course of my Fast Draft workshop experience. And I still managed to write. How? This.
I bought myself a notebook. Mostly, I bought it because my parents were visiting and were using my computer to post funny things to their friends on Facebook, but I also found that it really helped keep me from web-surfing or trying to do too much research *while* writing.
The picture on the front always gets me pumped up too! Kittens and puppies just don’t do it for me.
I contemplated buying an AlphaSmart Neo. It’s a typewriter, basically. I do have a very old mechanical typewriter, which I did use to write about a decade ago. It broke. And no one knows how to fix it. But, if I ever come into a good spot of money, I may purchase an AlphaSmart Neo or Dana. The nice thing about these “typewriters” is that they are able to serve as a keying memory device. So, later, when you have time, you can let the Neo (or Dana) type in your data for you, and hence, save it as a Word file, or any other kind of document you want.
Anyway, those are some things that help keep me from being distracted when trying to write. Now if only I could find something to help with distractions when I do my CME!