25 February 2013

The Power of Focus

It’s hard to say who has a shorter attention span, me or Jordan. It’s actually a big point in the first few chapters of my book how distracted he gets, even though sometimes he’s faking it. So you can imagine that he doesn’t exactly provide full-time inspiration. And me? I take forever to get the creative process going. I have to listen to music, then sit in silence (if there aren’t sirens or blaring music from the church across the street or my neighbors aren’t screaming), and then when I finally get a few sentences down, my stomach starts growling. And since I can’t write and eat, I’ll turn on the TV and then get sucked in to watching it for hours and hours and what was I trying to do in the first place? Writing?!

It’s difficult to stay focused, even when I’m desperate to get something done. Sometimes I wish I could get some sort of tunnel vision where all I can see is my laptop and I can’t hear anything from the outside world.

Focus is different from inspiration. Inspiration is what makes you want to write; it’s where you get your ideas from. Sometimes it can be completely out of your control. Focus is what you need after you already have your inspiration. You need to pull from a lot of things in order to have the right focus—inspiration, yes, but also motivation and will power. It’s easy to get distracted by everyday things, but also by the big picture sort of things. If you start worrying about how you’re going to succeed and get your book published before you’ve even finished the first chapter, then you’ve already lost focus. You don’t want to get too ahead of yourself, get too distracted by life and lose that wonderful inspiration that made you start this to begin with.

Just keep your attention on the task at hand. Find out what works for you. You may have a nice, quiet space where you do your writing. If you write better with a notebook or a computer, don’t try to force yourself to do the opposite. I once thought it might be a good idea to go to the beach with a notebook, but since my muse likes to provide digital inspiration, I couldn’t get out a single word. Find a song or two that gets you in the right mood, or reflects whatever scene you’re working on. Or read a passage of a book that inspires you. But once you’re finished honing all this great inspiration, it’s time to focus on your work, your writing. Don’t let the outside world, or even your own doubts, ruin your concentration.

And if you have to shoo the cat away, then so be it. 

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