Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Writer's Focus

There's a breed of writer who has a problem with focus. I was one such writer plagued by that problem, have mostly gotten it under control, but still have a few battles with it now and again.

Now, by focus I mean you have so many different ideas for your writing floating around that you find it hard to remain dedicated to the one at hand. You love to write fiction (are in the middle of a story or novel as a matter of fact), but you have this great non-fiction book idea, there's this poem fragment that keeps running through you head and you have some really great ideas on angles for articles - all at the same time. What to do?

First be grateful you're one of "those" writers and not one who is beating his or her head against a wall just trying to come up with a coherent or publishable idea at all. That's never good.

Okay, gratitude duly noted, now, next step. This is where I usually have to take a step back and have a conversation with myself. You know those, I've done a couple of them on my blog in the past. I actually kind of enjoy these cozy little chats with myself. I figure as long as I don't mumble loudly in public I'm okay.

So here's the drill:

I say to myself, "boy I really need to get down to it on that novel. It's coming along and I'm getting close to the end. But I have this really fantastic idea for a non-fiction book I want to work on."

Self replies,"You need to stay focused and get something done. Bits and pieces everywhere get you nowhere. Besides, you're probably getting excited about the new idea because you don't want to finish the first one and risk rejection."

Ah, a philosophical statement from the interior me.

Hmm, self could be right. On the other hand, I might have a great idea for that non-fiction book or some other project.

Self again. "Stop wasting time."

"All right, all right," I respond, "but that other idea..."

"Can wait. Well, maybe not altogether. How about making notes?"

Okay, that's an idea. I keep some blank notebooks on hand for such an event. If it's a burning idea I need a lot of room. I jot something on the cover to identify it as solely dedicated to the new idea. Then I do a quick, brief overview on the first page, leave a couple of blank pages after. Then a blank page for each character (if fiction) or idea or point (if non-fiction). and if non-fiction, questions that need to be answered with space allowed for more ramblings or answers. I allow myself a set time to get it down, get it done, then put it aside and return to the big project that needs finish.

It's a method that has worked for me. Sometimes the new idea gets shelved indefinitely, other times it ends up being the next project up. Don't allow yourself to skip around indefinitely, but don't risk losing that next great idea either. And I find when the notes of that next great idea sit around for a while, frequently it has a chance to mature and evolve into something even better.

So when you get tied up in 'too many idea' knots, have a little chat with yourself and find an accord.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Other Posts Of Interest:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...