Writing and Publishing

Writers Need Discipline and Focus

Two weeks ago I listed my writing-related work for the week. It was exhaustive—both to live it and to list it. I ended by saying that I needed to cut some non-essential tasks from my life. Though I have a list of possible items to eliminate, I have yet to make any fundamental corrections.

Another impetus for change occurred this week when I considered the idea of focus. Focus is a counterpoint to self-discipline.

For the most part, I am disciplined in my writing. I write every day, I get things done, and I meet deadlines. I have a focus on each project while I’m working on it. My problem is my focus jumps throughout the day, hopping from one project to the next, to the next, to the next. I need balance. Each one seems critical; each one looms as the imperative task at that moment.

But I lack an overall focus on what’s most important. Instead, I dwell on the urgent while skipping the more critical. Although I know I’m not focusing on what’s the most significant, I can’t say what it is. Everything I do—along with several things I never get to—seems important. But if I focus on everything, that effectively renders nothing as important. I dilute my efforts.

I realize there are two types of focus. There’s focusing on the moment and focusing on the future. I’m good at the first type of focus and lousy at the second. My focus on today keeps me from intentionally moving towards tomorrow. I need to discover what’s essential and focus on that.

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Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

3 replies on “Writers Need Discipline and Focus”

Dear Peter,

Do I know what you are talking about!
I have so much in my mind and on my plate that I also mostly do what I need to do for my family and friends, leaving my needs and plans for last.

I do work daily on editing my book chapter by chapter and write in one form or another. I don’t post, though, I don’t work on mastering technical issues that I need to move on, and I don’t take advantage of social media to connect so that I have enough support when my book is out.

At this stage of my life, both my needs and the needs of others are important, so my time is divided as needed.

For a long time now, most of our extended family members and friends are getting more and more debilitated and seriously sick. My 95-year-old mother, who lives with us, though not physically ill, depends on me for everything else. I learned from her to serve others and it has become second nature, so my own agenda is pushed to the side.

Especially when one gets older, priorities change. What is more important is to alleviate the pain of others than think of own ambitions.

So true, Katina. Our priorities do change over time and with that is the amount of time we can devote to writing. You are moving your writing forward as you balance it with life, and that’s what matters. Well done!

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