Art Without Distraction, by Wendy DeRaud

Mark working on his latest portrait, without distraction



"If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work."    C. S. Lewis


Every week I come to this bookstore to write. I love my alone time, where I can be surrounded by strangers, have music piped in to accompany me, sip on a cool drink, and just hammer away at my keyboard, crafting and cajoling with myself, coaxing something profound to come out. It may or may not happen as I imagine, but it’s just good to know I’ve put in the time.

Except for last night. I wasn’t able to do much typing at all, because of a big distraction.

My daughter is in Hawaii right now, trying to get out before a big hurricane hits. I’m consumed with thoughts of her, with prayers for her, with communications about her through text and email and social media. It’s a distraction I can’t shake, and I know that no writing will come.

Finally this morning I am freed up a bit more, knowing she has booked a flight out and that she’ll be safely back on the mainline by tonight at midnight. Now I can breathe. And write a little.

Life is full of distractions, big and small. Our brains are easily led astray, down rabbit holes and monkey trails, all leading us away from our best selves, our creative thoughts and inspirations.

Of course, there may be times when distractions are helpful, or needful (like helping someone in need at a pivotal time!) Distractions can help us find topics for consideration, but most of the time, not.

There will always be something important to take us away from our creative acts, right? We usually relegate our art-making or writing to the lowest possible priority in our day, admit it!

What shall I wear? What shall I eat? How will I say that, or how will it look? I better clean that now. Oh wait, Squirrel!

We are told by Jesus to take no thought for tomorrow, for we have enough to be concerned about for today without borrowing from the future or the past. Yet we are sorely tempted to let future-oriented thoughts come in to rob us of the present moment, or to allow the past memories trigger our emotions to bring unneeded anxieties into our creative life.

I have to keep trying to bring myself back, again and again, into the present and the focus that I desire, that is, Christ in me, my Hope, and His desire for me to use my gifts for His glory and my joy. From there, I can receive the inspiration I need to create, to write, paint, play.

It won’t always be easy, either. It is a struggle to tame my wandering thought-life, but in the struggle, I develop habits of the mind that can help to harness my wild and independent ways. Eventually, those habits of discipline and persistence will pay off, and I can learn to incorporate my creative practices into my life, even as a higher priority than cleaning my house.