Can you imagine being totally focused on one project every waking moment? How boring that would be!
Today I’m writing a few words of encouragement for those who are like me – unable to keep your minds riveted to only one project at a time.
I always have to be involved with more than just one thing.
I have a half-finished painting of Stella Walthall Patterson and her dog over there on my easel, a memoir in progress, and a few novels to edit.
As I was writing this, the online video stream for my church came on… I’m staying home due to health issues. How can one focus when there are so many exciting things to do on the internet? If I can focus an hour and a half on this church service it will be a miracle. It is easier to do so when I’m sitting in the sanctuary rather than at home.
I’ve found something that helps me focus on what the pastor is saying while I watch online. Well, of course, having a Bible in front of me and looking up the scriptures will help. But for those times when I’m feeling restless, I draw in my sketchbook. I’ve started doing zentangles while I’m listening. I also incorporate some of the things I hear into my drawing, so you could say I’m working on spiritual zentangles for help with focus.
Writers need to absorb a lot of information. Too much focus on a project eliminates that. How can our novelist imaginations flourish if we’re always thinking only about what we’re writing, or editing?
There is a time for focus – and that’s when our work captures us so completely that we can’t help but concentrate on what we’re doing. If you’re a writer, surely you know what I mean about being in that “writer’s zone” and letting the rest of the world fade away.
Anxiety about being focused isn’t going to help us achieve it. For best results, writing is a natural process, not something that can be easily forced.
Many years ago, when I started my life of creative writing, I went to restaurants (and away from the kids) to get a few minutes alone. At the restaurants I used my time wisely for the purpose of filling pages with my unique squiggly lines… I still have those pages! They weren’t publication-worthy, but were good for writer’s practice. I got used to being who I want to be.
[Long pause for the online church service.]
I like it when focus happens naturally, but trying to focus when I’m not in the zone – that feels like putting on a straightjacket.
Focus has become a buzzword, almost as bad as passion. It has gotten to the point where everytime someone says “My passion in life is __________,” my desire to read more turns off, and all I can think of is my boredom with the word, passion. Can we think of any creative and new ways to tell people what we care most about in life?
We don’t need to focus on focus! What we need is to start something. Yes, just get started. I’ve found that getting started is the hardest part. Once you’re started, the natural creative process takes over and leads you onward, usually into the condition of love for your creative project.
Devote yourself to getting started, and the rest will come naturally.