Writerly Focus


Someone great once said that Focus Is All You Have.

This November I will be repeating my attempt to draft a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. This means that for November, my focus is on writing, an activity which has been curbed since last winter due to the editing, marketing, technical tweaks, and other various life chores that I’ve had to attend to in order to get HERE again:


woman thinking about writing

This is the month where I focus on getting out the WORDS from my HEAD that have been trapped. Ahead of the sales promotions, before thinking about any edits, taking priority even over personal hygiene. (Well,…)

Why such a single-minded approach? Because the brain is such a powerful tool, and it can do great things when it can concentrate. I’ve been methodically doing research tasks (1820s Great Britain) and making my way through my detailed outline in preparation for NaNoWriMo. So much work! But an amazing payoff:

This is when I get to sit back and let the brain take over.  Like magic, it will supply the right word (“bracken”), feel the mood I’m grasping for, remember whether common people wore cotton yet in 1822, and generally, bloom.

love your brain

Even better, once this blooming sets in, one productive explosion begets another, and you find yourself in a virtuous cycle of creative ingenuity. It’s happening right now!

One really great writerly research ‘expedition’ I ‘expedited’ in September was attending an afternoon of Wordstock, an annual book/ author/ poetry festival in Portland, OR. I surveyed new authors, listened to spiels about writers’ organizations, and then attended a panel discussion on crafting historical fiction, the star of which was an author I had actually previously read: Jamie Ford, of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet fame.

The moderator asked several questions about research methods, about personal motivation for story, about process. One panelist answered with his own opinions, seeming to circumvent the questions altogether, another answered with humor and some regrets, and Jamie answered with the honesty of “this is true for me; this is the only way it could be” and it really struck a chord with me…

OK, OK, back to focusing on writing…

Is there something you are trying to focus on?

Do distractions always manage to pop up?

If you’ve got any successful mental-tricks, we’d love to hear about them in the comments…


Images via Sacred Dirt and Beyond the Dream

One Response to Writerly Focus

  1. Pingback: The Retreat | Taste Life Twice

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