As I write this, I am sitting in a café next to an acquaintance. I know she wants to write a book. When we both sat down, we each said we were here to write. My fingers have been flying on the keyboard. Hers haven’t. They’ve been tickling her phone because every couple of minutes, someone pings her and she picks up the phone to respond. If my phone has been pinging, I wouldn’t know it—it’s in my purse, and with the loud café music, it’s out of range of my hearing.
The time I have spent here today has been a rare and precious period of focus, and my computer battery is going to run out soon. I am more invested in leaving here feeling good from having gotten my desired writing done than in responding to others’ agendas.
Maintaining focus is an ever-greater challenge as we live a more connected lifestyle, checking our social media feeds, scanning the internet for yet more stimulus. But if you are trying to write a book or create on a regular basis, you must learn to command a certain level of focus. The minute you leave your project and go off on another thread, it’s as if you have put yourself back at the beginning. You have taken one step forward and two steps back.
We do not have to be available 24/7. As women, we are oriented toward making sure everyone else and everything else is taken care of before we do our own work. These days it’s incredibly hard to find the focus required to write anything, let alone a book. Yet we must cultivate our ability to focus. A special kind of attention is required to say what we want and need to say.
Assess how much focus you have for all the projects and obligations in your life. You can have a lot on your plate and still be able to focus. Everyone talks about time management, but what’s really required for your creative work is focus management.
Harnessing your focus is like shutting the door to your office or writing room. You are temporarily holding off your other obligations to dive into your own work. Consider how easily you move between tasks, roles and projects. Are you able to release your thoughts about other obligations and drop into a focused state?
I hope that you learn to love the focus you have when writing, that you can drop into a zone where you are in touch with both your material and how you want to communicate it. This will require some training. Consider that the real work of writing a book is less about time management and more about focus management. The quality of your focus will determine the quality of your writing and your book.
What helps you gather your focus to write or create?
CTA: This is an excerpt from my book, The Busy Woman’s Guide to Writing a World-Changing Book. If you’re ready to write your book and want support along the way, this is the guide for you. Available wherever books are sold in paperback, e-book and audio book. Get your copy now.