“How did you write that so fast?” a client asked after I rewrote something for him. Easy, I emailed back: no meetings! I inserted a smiley face emoticon to show how I felt about that. Hopefully I wasn’t rubbing it in.
Well, not having meetings certainly was part of it, but there were no interruptions either. No one dropped by for a quick chat. I wasn’t compulsively checking email or social media. I wasn’t listening to music. I had finished breakfast, and lunch was still two hours off. There was no popcorn aroma emanating from the break room to distract me.
I was fully caffeinated, so a coffee run was unnecessary. The phone wasn’t ringing. Our dog Callie didn’t need to be walked. There was no need to text anyone. I was not trying to capture any Pokémon.
In other words, there were no distractions. Actually, to be more precise, I did not allow myself to be distracted. I even turned my mobile device upside down, so I wouldn’t be distracted by its blinking blue light signaling a new message had arrived. I closed out my email so I wouldn’t be tempted to sneak a peek.
That got me thinking: Why is it so hard to write in the office? One reason is that writing doesn’t come easily to everyone, just like calculus doesn’t come easily to everyone. But another reason is there’s no solid time in the course of a work day. Utility communicators and marketers — managerial and non-managerial — spend a good bit of their working days in meetings, leaving less time for thinking, reflecting or drafting copy. Unfortunately, thinking, reflecting and drafting are essential precursors to good writing.