Someone recently asked me how I stay focused. It seems like I’m constantly juggling projects, working on new things, producing new material … but how do you keep your nose in your work (especially when also dealing with a full-time job and family)?
Aside from the fact that my focus is an illusion — the truth is I’m a lazy, not-very-driven person by nature and always have been — the secret is, there is no secret. It’s damn hard. It’s never easy. And that’s all there is to it.
For the person not yet making his or her living solely on writing, for the person wedging that impossible dream into a life already crammed with work, family, and life in general, staying focused on writing is THE obstacle. The biggest one of all. It’s Everest. Conquer it and you’re well on your way.
There is no one answer on how to stay focused. It will differ from person to person. You’ve got to know yourself. You’ve got to know how to work within and around your limitations. Knowing those limitations and being willing to acknowledge them is HUGE. So know yourself and know what you have to work around.
For me, it’s a combination of guilt tripping myself, maintaining momentum, a small dab of desire, and an irrepressible need to make stuff.
The latter part comes easy. Writing, making music, painting, creating board games … I can’t stop creating stuff. It’s how I fill my time. Have done so since I was a kid. Desire is simply knowing what I want and realizing that if I just sit and daydream about it, well, I’ll be yet another in a long line of people who talk about writing rather than, you know, writing. I don’t want to be that guy. Momentum I’ve talked about (see link above).
And guilt? Guilt is easy.
I feel that if I don’t sit down and write on a regular basis, I’m doing myself and my long-term goals a great disservice. So I write. There are times when I want to toss my laptop into the ocean and veg out in front of video games. There are times when I’d rather set aside the projects I have to do so I can pound away at the projects I want to do. There are times when I just need a goddamn break and don’t want to think about writing for a few months.
But I can’t live with the idea that I’ve shorted myself of an opportunity to succeed at writing.
And if you want to write, neither should you.