by Karen Ball
I was just talking with a client the other day about the writing life. She’d struggled with getting started on her novel. Then, once she started, she said it was as though she couldn’t keep her backside in the chair. Everything else caught her attention: laundry, dishes, kids, dogs, yard work, and on and on. And when she finally managed to write most of the book, there was that darned ending! She’d written and rewritten and rewritten it again. What’s more, she was about to rewrite one more time!
“Am I the only one who struggles with all this? Does anyone else?”
After I snorted my coffee—and then cleaned up—I told her the bald truth: “Only everyone.”
Okay, maybe not every writer struggles with these things. But more writers do than don’t. It’s SO much easier to do…well, anything…than to stay focused on writing. It’s not that we don’t love what we do. Of course we love it. But it’s just so hard! And getting immersed enough in the story to stay immersed can be a real battle. So what’s a writer to do?
Well, use the different level of focus, for one thing.
I’m firmly ensconced in the camp of writers that has trouble starting, continuing, and ending well. Which is what got me focused on focus to begin with. And here’s what I’ve found. It helps a great deal to start out with mountaintop focus. How? By looking at the whole picture, I can then break it down to bite-sized pieces. And breaking things down into bite-sized pieces engages my love of puzzles and my desire to “fix” things, which gets me fully engaged. I do this as often every week, or as little as once a month, depending on how the writing is going. Any time I realize I’m out of the chair more than I’m in it, I take a day to do an overview—mountaintop focus–of the book. I consider the following: