I have fled the house. Psychically, temporarily, the house itself has gone. The walls are there, and the objects, but all order has been laid waste by a flooring project that ‘escalated’ (if you know this term already from behavioural management in social services, you’ve got the picture exactly). Each step reveals more steps that need to be done first. It turns out that DIY stands for: Y Did I?

The thing I miss most is my routine. Finally, after years of attempts, I’ve worked out a morning slide. It goes: creative stuff then journaling then something physical then meditating then set my dreams for the day. All I have to do is choose the next thing. I know how good the process is, and how much stronger it makes me. Most importantly, it helps me work with Drift.

Drift is the word I use in my head for what other people might call brain fog, distractability, absentmindedness, zoning out…It seems to be my default setting.

I don’t know how common a problem Drift is for the population at large. But it is definitely an issue for many creative people. For some it takes the form of a zillion beginnings, a swarm of starts that has built its hive in their studio. For others, Drift is addressed by pleasure seeking, internet binges that leave a crash worse than sugar. We can have complex emotions around it too, calling ourselves lazy, procrastinators, or useless.

For me, Drift usually simply involves tripping out. You know how people say, “How often do you think about (where your coffee comes from, how the electricity in your home works, etc.)?” My answer is usually, “Oh, I was thinking about that this morning.” It’s like I can’t stop noticing, but the noticing doesn’t go anywhere.

I suspect that there is a connection between creativity and neuro-atypical attention patterns. Unfortunately the research on this is both meagre and blunt. Partly this is because our understanding of brains is still a fledgling science. More disturbingly, every study defines creativity differently, and in ways I struggle to recognise.

Drift is an amazing gift. I see things that are meant to be invisible. Observing the thought processes of creative people, glimpsing the world through their senses – that’s part of the joy of experiencing other people’s creations. 

I don’t think Drift can be cured, and I don’t know if I’d want it to be. But I can’t stand to live the rest of my life in a haze. I have work to make. 

Luckily for me, after a ton of experimenting, I’ve found a routine that helps manage my attention. I’ve taken care to convince myself that it’s important, so I’m motivated to keep it. The routine can break, like it has now, but I know I’ll choose it again at the first opportunity (right after we get the hot water on). 

Consistently, elegantly, accurately, my morning routine leads me to where I want to be.