It’s funny; I’m sitting here trying to write an article about staying focused on writing and I’ve already been distracted by my washing. Yes, but that’s only because I have an appointment this afternoon, and then there’s the soup I want to make for supper. Sound familiar?
There’s no doubt about it, distractions are an occupational hazard when you’re a writer. I imagine it will always be that way. Having said that, however, I do want to tell you about two things I undertook recently that went a long way to help me remain focused on my work.
The first thing I did was give myself permission to call myself a writer. Let’s face it, writers sit for hours, days, weeks, in front of a blank screen trying to create something that we hope people will like. Years go by, the rejections pile up, and through it all we see little, if anything, in the form of a paycheque. In today’s world getting paid for work completed is very validating. We might even wonder if anyone will ever take us seriously if we don’t receive a paycheque. On top of that, how can we call ourselves a writer if we are not published?
Let me simplify this for you: IF YOU WRITE, THEN YOU ARE A WRITER. Got it? Believe it.
So what does it mean to give yourself permission to call yourself a writer? It allowed me to take things to the next level. A friend of mine who does writing workshops once told a group of us how she got a logo for her business. The idea really appealed to me. I knew having a logo wouldn’t make me a better writer, but I also knew it would help me to take myself seriously as a writer. It did. I feel more focused when I sit down to work.
It’s easy enough to get a logo on-line. I know because that’s the first place I checked. However, I didn’t feel comfortable dealing with someone I’d never met. Instead I went to a graphic design place in town and was astonished to discover how expensive it is to have a logo created just for me. I did consider it though because I had a plan. I wanted to treat my writing like a business. Businesses have logo’s and business cards. I wanted both. Fortunately for me, I have a friend whose son is a graphic designer. He does freelance work at affordable prices. I got in touch with him and because I’d already done my homework, knew that what he offered was a good deal: Three designs for a logo idea as well as a business card design. As I write this, my logo and business card design will be up and ready in a few days. The new logo design will also go on my writing blog.
That’s the other thing that has helped me to be focused as a writer — I started a writing blog. I won’t deny it, starting a blog scared me. I’m not what you would call computer savvy. But as in all things, once you decide you want to do something things have a way of falling into place. For me it happened one day when I was at the library. I saw a notice that said they were offering people like myself one-on-one training with computer experts. Though the notice didn’t say anything about helping anyone start a blog I decided to ask anyway, and low and behold one young woman was willing to help me. Her name is Amanda and she not only helped me to expand my blog – I already had it started in a rudimentary form, but wanted to take full advantage of everything it had to offer – she also taught me about quality of work and not quantity, which fit in perfectly with my own way of doing things. And so the blog started to grow.
What once started out to be a rather intimidating task has turned in to a pleasure. Having a writing blog gives me the opportunity to have work read that has previously been sitting in a drawer, and to share what I have learned about writing, like I’m doing right now.
Having a writing blog feels like having my own magazine where I write all the stories and articles, and it’s great. I’m always thinking about things to write about, and the best part is I get to complete something in a short period of time and put in on-line for others to read. I don’t know about you, but that sure feels like being a writer to me.
The novel I am currently writing has taken years, and I still have to get it published. There is no telling how long that will take. Is it any wonder having a writing blog makes me feel more like a writer?
Since I began putting my logo into place and working on my writing blog over the last two months, I have also completed a short story for a writing competition while working on my novel. Progress.
Now that I feel more focused as a writer I have decided that I need to make plans for the coming year so that I can stay on track. For example, I hope to complete my novel, research publishing, improve the quality of the writing for my blog, and think about a new writing project. Most importantly I want to be more selfish about my writing time. After all I am in the business of being writer. I take what I do seriously; because if I don’t, who will?