I’ll admit it. I’m not the most focused person in the world. Sure, I can stick with a task if I set my mind to it, especially if there’s a deadline attached. But more often than not, if left to my own devices I’ll happily meander in and out the simplest of projects all day long.
My problem is that I’m intensely curious. About everything.
As a kid it could seriously take me half an hour or more to look up a word in the dictionary. I’m a terrific speller, so finding the word wasn’t the problem. On the way to the word I was looking for I would stumble on another one that looked pretty interesting so I’d stop to check it out. Which would remind me of another word I had been meaning to look up. Which made me think of… wait, where was I? Oh yes, looking up that word.
Of course now that I do everything on my computer this is no longer a problem for me. I google the word and — bam! — the definition of one word and one word only appears. No getting distracted by other fun terms along the way. But while I’m on the internet, let me just check my email really quick. Cool, that new book I ordered has shipped. Which reminds me, I wanted to check out the author’s website. Maybe I should add him to my RSS feeds…
Okay, so the internet didn’t solve my wandering problem; I just traded up from analog to digital.
Actually I don’t consider my wandering off for a while a real problem at all. (Although I’m sure I could find a few people who would disagree with me there.) It’s in those meanderings that I find some really nifty usable stuff, and that’s also where some of my best creative ideas start to form. I’m very much a non-linear thinker – I work a little on this, then think a little on that, and research a little on something else. All the little bits and pieces start to ferment in my brain, and I follow the ideas as they bubble to the top. Makes perfect sense to me, although I’ve noticed this process of mine makes some people terribly uncomfortable. Especially when a deadline is looming near. (By the way, I’ve never missed a deadline yet. I’ve learned to relax and trust in the muse. She’ll give me the idea or solution when I need it, and her watch keeps pretty good time. )
I get to the end result sooner or later, and in my experience later often yields a better result. My curiosity is what keeps me informed, and what keeps me creative. So I’ll go ahead and keep indulging it when the urge strikes me.
Curiosity doesn’t kill the cat. It makes her a better mouser.