out of focus

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out of focus

Sometimes it’s a real challenge to stay focused – and sometimes staying focused isn’t important.

The usual suspects: my lovely kids are the best, and most frequent, distractions.

My grandmother is sick. And she’s on the other side of the world.

And I’m waiting for my residence visa… meanwhile I can’t travel. Not that I need to. Things are not that serious. But it would be nice to have the option.

I’m struggling to focus on editing my novel. Maybe, right now, it’s not that important.

I have a saying that helps me to keep perspective. I don’t know if someone else said it, or something similar, or if I made it up. It goes something like this –

Every day counts, but every day is just one day.

I work consistently – pretty much every week day – and I’m productive, finishing a couple of new first drafts a year and several later drafts and rewrites. So, if I skip a day, heck, if I skip a week, it’s not a big deal.

But then, there are always excuses if you look for them. I try to work every week day. If it happens, fabulous, if not, it’s just one day. Other things are more important – my kids, my husband, my friends, my health, and of course my family.

A serious event throws priorities into stark relief. Everything else will slide, if that’s what is necessary, when a loved-one is seriously ill. Things that are usually a priority suddenly seem unimportant.

But there’s nothing I can actually do for my Grandma, and other than a phone call there’s not much I can do for anyone else.

I am powerless in this, and that makes me feel powerless in other things. Usually, even when there are distractions and interruptions, I find a way to steal a little time, to focus and work, to make progress, even if it’s slow. But sometimes it’s like I have a bad lens prescription and no matter how much I will myself to focus, I just can’t shake the blur.

I got through the fog today and edited a good twenty plus pages. I had a decent chunk of time without interruption, and no new news about Grandma. I had plenty of coffee, an achievable goal and a time limit.

Perhaps I would have been struggling to focus on editing this week anyway – my focus is starting to wander to my next project. This is the second book in a row that I’ve edited and I’m ready to write something new. It’s not that I don’t like the editing/rewriting part of the process but I don’t want to be doing it too much of the time.

Some of the things that helped today are conditions I can repeat:

– coffee is available, and excellent.

– I can set achievable goals.

– I can give myself time limits, eg. I will edit until the end of next week and then that’s it, time to start planning the new book.

Time without interruption is not something I have full control over, but it does happen. It’s just not always predictable. Sometimes both the kids sleep at once. Sometimes the baby sleeps while the toddler is at nursery. Sometimes Luuk has work to do in the evening and I have a chunk of time to myself. I have to be prepared to work when it does happen, even if it means leaving the washing in the machine for half a day…

But right now, if there’s news about Grandma then that gets priority. And if the fog sets in I should probably just deal with the laundry and hope for clarity and focus later on.

Today – any day – is just one day.