Get Focused

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Do you hear it?

Voices… all around you…thoughts and opinions on the state of publishing, on what sells and what doesn’t, on good ideas and bad…words zipping back and forth in the ether. Write this. Write that. This is how you market. This is the key to platform. Buzz words. Marketing. Blogging. Craft. Deep POV. Are you Pinning? Tweeting? Linked-in? Google plussed? Skilled in hashtags? Metadata? EcommerceQRcodesDiscoverabilityNanowrimoCross-siteblahblahblahBLAH!

It’s enough to drive a sane person around the bend. As for writers? Well, we know they’re (we’re) already around the bend and up the next rise, so what does the cacophony do to us?

All too often, it fractures us, leaving us torn between loving and hating what we do. It freezes us in our tracks. Rips the creativity right out of us until we’re left sitting there, staring at the computer screen, wondering why we’re putting in all this effort when the darned book won’t sell anyway. Or it slams us into hyper mode, where we churn out idea after idea of what we can do, throwing it all at our advisors/agents/crit groups/cats/dogs/goldfishes/Magic 8-Balls to see what we should do.

Well, allow me to cast my vote on what we should do.

Stop it.

Right now.



Take a deep breath. Push back from the computer. (Yes, you! Fingers off the keyboard!)

Breathe in. Now out. In. Out.

And ask yourself this:

Do I love what I’m writing? Is this the one thing above all others I want to write? Is this the story that God planted deep within me, at the core of who I am?

If the answer is a resounding Yes!, then carry on. But if your response is not so enthusiastic, then may I make another suggestion?

Find your focus.

How, you ask, do I do that? Well, tune in next week! Until then, let me leave you with this thought:

“Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.”


30 Responses to Get Focused

  1. Avatar
    Ron Estrada March 13, 2013 at 4:33 am #

    Ha! I was just stressing because I haven’t posted to my blog in a week. And it seems I’m always worried that I’m not active enough on twitter, facebook, Google+, and Pinterest. Good grief, I don’t have time to write. I’m too busy working on my writing career. Please, Karen, talk me down.

  2. Avatar
    Debby Mayne March 13, 2013 at 5:30 am #

    The timeliness of your blog post is amazing, Karen. Lately I’ve felt a swirling in my head that made me wonder what I’d gotten myself into. I’m going to take your sage advice and step away from the computer for a little while to regroup and gather my thoughts. Thank you!

  3. Avatar
    Jaime Wright March 13, 2013 at 5:38 am #

    Amen, Amen, and AMEN!! It’s always great to get back to my primary joy–writing. I took this last week off from writing to do just that, focus. I’m going crazy and can’t WAIT to get back to my book. Your words ring true.

  4. Avatar
    Vannetta chapman March 13, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    SUCH an important reminder in a world that clamors for our attention. Much thanks ~

  5. Avatar
    lisa March 13, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    I love this! Especially that we already are around the bend and up the next rise :)Push away the competing voices and write!

  6. Avatar
    Robin Patchen March 13, 2013 at 6:54 am #

    It is so easy to be whipped into fear and frenetic activity by all the information and opinions out there. Your advice–to stop and refocus–is excellent. At the end of the day, my question to myself must be, “Am I doing what God has called me to do?” My next question: “Am I giving it my all?” If the answer to both is yes, then why worry? God will take care of the rest.

    Easy words to type… Not always so easy to live by.

  7. Avatar
    Rick Barry March 13, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    Absolutely true, Karen. What a fun breath of fresh air you’ve shared today!

    In recent days I have realized that overdosing on blogs and other online information can be as dangerous as trying to sip from Niagara Falls–you can lose your grip and be washed away. I’m positive the never-ending cascade of “helpful” advise actually undermines some worthy writers who try to drink as much as they can but finally realize they’ll never be able to hold it all.

    I still follow a few select blogs (notice I’m here 🙂 ), but I’ve narrowed my focus to what I need to know right now for the story before me.

  8. Avatar
    Jeanne T March 13, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    Karen, have you been in my head? I love the story I am working on, but between real life and trying to get involved in social media (FB, Twitter, blogging), there’s not much time left for working on my story. Sigh. I needed the reminder to breathe in, breathe out. And focus. Thank you, I’ll be doing that today.

    What a timely post!

  9. Avatar
    Janet Ann Collins March 13, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    I really needed to read this today. Thanks so much for posting it, Karen.

  10. Avatar
    Gwynneth White March 13, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    Thanks. Just what I needed right now.

  11. Avatar
    Jean Willett March 13, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    Thank you so much. This is timely for me and a reminder to simply breathe. I’ll have to add some life issues to my stack as well. They seem to knock all the techno babble and creativity out the window. Simply the season, so I’ll go with the flow. But the writing is waiting…

  12. Avatar
    Nancy Farrier March 13, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    Wonderful words. Thank you, Karen.

  13. Avatar
    Heather Day Gilbert March 13, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Love that Aesop quote! How apt for writers. And yes. Sometimes we have to be still and know within ourselves that what we’re writing is important, whether it ever gets pubbed or not. Hard to do, but thankfully, no there are more options than ever for getting our writing out there.

    • Avatar
      Heather Day Gilbert March 13, 2013 at 10:20 am #

      (now there are more options–sorry). I think I make all my typing errors on the Steve Laube website! So sorry!

      • Avatar
        Steve Laube March 13, 2013 at 10:25 am #

        And we noticed. We have charts and graphs of all of them. LOL!

        Think of it as a conversation among industry friends. And other than Karen and Tamela, the rest of us are inevitably errant.

  14. Avatar
    Jennifer Smith March 13, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    This is exactly how I’ve been feeling! Thanks for posting.

  15. Avatar
    Julie Sunne March 13, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Thank you for the permission to stop and breathe! Focusing now.

  16. Avatar
    Sandy Nadeau March 13, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    Thank you. That’s just all I can say. Thank you!

  17. Avatar
    Stephanie Nickel March 13, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    I love the way this is written. The title has been inspiring me all day to focus on the one thing at hand – even if it only takes a few minutes to complete. Because I’ve been doing so, I’ve had a very productive day and it’s only 2:25.

    Now that I’ve read the post, I can examine afresh what is truly at the core of my being. Thank you!

  18. Avatar
    Karen Ball March 13, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Thanks, all! I write about it because I need it myself! So thankful I’m not alone.

  19. Avatar
    Ann Shorey March 13, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Thank you, Karen. I needed to hear those words today.

  20. Avatar
    Poppy Smith March 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    I appreciated your words, Karen, because it seems most of us who write and speak battle a tsunami of social media requirements–and there is a point where we can feel as if we are drowning. Trying to focus on writing and keeping up with what’s expected to “build a platform” can drain not only our writing energy, but our ability to live some sort of normal life.

    Knowing what you’re called to, and remembering that, is key to living an emotionally and physically balanced life. Making hard decisions can be the best thing we can do in order to get free of what becomes bondage. I recently made a huge “career” impacting decision, and am so glad I did. I feel free to do what I had no time for and I’m smiling and thanking God every day for the courage to do it. Blessings on your voice of sanity. Poppy

  21. Avatar
    Pat Jaeger March 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    Thank you! Isn’t it wonderful to see how God uses His children to help His other children? You answered a prayer. This has to be my favorite place to visit each day. Not only does it encourage and educate me in my craft, it uplifts my spirit. What else can we ask for!

  22. Avatar
    Judy Gordon Morrow March 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    Bravo, Karen, bravo! You wrote my heart, and I join the others in saying a heartfelt thank you. (Looking forward to seeing you at Mount Hermon!)

  23. Avatar
    Telena Tanara Contreras March 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    What a calming and encouraging post Karen. There are so many facets to writing it’s easy to get bogged down and spread too thin. I appreciate your candidness because getting caught up in the fray does sometimes suck the joy out of writing for me. It’s nice to know I’m not alone, even at this early stage in my journey; and nicer still to be reminded it’s okay to take a step back and regroup.

  24. Avatar
    Candy Arrington March 14, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    Great post, Karen!

  25. Avatar
    Sheila Haemmerle March 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    “…a word in season, how good it is.” I read that in a pretty awesome book. Thanks so much Karen for the timely word. Exactly what I needed.

  26. Avatar
    Cheryl Colwell March 14, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    Bless you. Bless you. Bless you! You mean I can slow down on the social media? Get the zinging and pinging out of my head from staring at the computer? Go to bed at the same time as my husband? GET BACK TO MY NOVEL? YAY!!! 😀

  27. Avatar
    Lancia E. Smith March 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Thank you, Karen, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.


  1. Tweet not, fair writer - March 14, 2013

    […] Karen Ball over at the Steve Laube Agency always has a way to encourage fledgling authors and keep them focused. So it’s no surprise that her latest post is titled “Get Focused.” […]

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