I love novels. I love to read them, I love to plan them, I love to think about them. I love how the characters, with their strengths and flaws, take shape in my mind. I love everything about books including the way they smell.
I hate to write them. I have trouble finishing because I am too easily distracted. I answer the call of the next group of characters already clamoring for my attention. Short stories are easier to finish, but I still have piles of them that never make it past the first few paragraphs before I’m off on another idea. Now that I know there is a cause for my erratic behavior and that I am not just fickle, I have vowed to put nose to grindstone and finish the book I’m currently working on. Okay, I vow to choose one of the books I am currently working on and actually see the project through to the end.
The other evening, with my daughter away, I took pen in hand and delved into the heart and soul of my heroine. I like her. She’s spunky. She has a lot to learn. I find myself pulling a heavy box down from the closet shelf. Wait. How did I get here? I was just writing dazzling dialogue for my frazzled heroine. Oh, I’m searching for something. Yes, I’m looking for the long forgotten notes of a psycho serial killer book I started years ago. Suddenly I need to find them. Oh! Look! Here’s a long ago put away first draft of an entire manuscript! OOOH! Here are some stories I wrote as a kid! Terrible, yes, but fun to read. Now what was I doing again?
This scenario is all too familiar to me. I have the best of intentions and things just fall apart. Hmmm…could this also be the reason my house is a wreck? (Unless I know you are coming, in which case I will speed clean and shove things in closets and crannies that you don’t even know exist. If I don’t know you’re coming, well, then I just pretend I am not home.)
I know that I can accomplish things. I know that I am an intelligent human being. At least I remember I used to think I was. I just have to figure out how to plan. That is almost embarrassing to say. It should be such a simple concept! Alas! To me, the concept of planning and follow through is as elusive as a shadow.
I started scouring the internet and asking people I knew for ideas on how to focus. What can I do to be more productive? I got a lot of answers, and most of them did seem like they would be worth a try.
1. Timers. Apparently people use these for more than cooking quiche. One tip was to set the timer for 20 minutes and work. When the timer goes off, set it for 10 and stretch, play computer games, or anything else you want, then set it again for 20. It seemed to me that a 10 minute break was awful liberal for 20 minutes of work, but then I started thinking. How often do I accomplish a solid 20 minutes? How often do I go off on a tangent and only spend 10 minutes? The more I think about it, the more productive this sounds. I plan to buy a timer next time I am at the store. (No, I do not already own one!)
2. Write everything down. Use a planner to write down every task, every appointment, and every promise made. Write down any instructions you are given so you don’t forget. Planners are invaluable. I think planners are fantastic tools. I wish I remembered to use mine. I wish I knew where it was. Note to self. Buy planner when you go out for the timer.
3. Break tasks down into small, simple steps. Check off as you go. I already to this for DD, why not myself?
4. Take fifteen minutes a day to clean off desk and sort through papers. I will do this as soon as I find my desk. Sorting papers – I am fantastic at that! I can turn one big pile of paper into several mini piles with no effort at all! Seriously, I can see the value of this decluttering and clearing of spaces. Less mental clutter.
5. Learn to say no. Say no to anything that takes you away from work during “working hours.” The only question I have about this one is does this include my mother??
6. Get enough sleep and eat proper meals and snacks. Both of these will help you to stay more focused. Wow…I just realized I may not be ADD after all…these two alone could be my problem!
There are all kinds of tips for being more focused. I could stay on the internet for hours looking for even more. I plan to try these and really work on making them habits. I know that out there is a way to keep my rear in the chair and do my work and I’m going to find it!