Refine Your Focus

Spring daffodils in the warm light of sunset.

Let’s talk about Focus.

I like Webster’s definitions:

Focus (noun)

a : adjustment (as of the eye or an eyepiece) for distinct vision

b : the position in which something must be placed (as in relation to a camera lens) for clearness of image or clarity of mental perception

: a central point: as

a : a center of activity or attraction or one drawing the greatest attention and interest

Focus (verb)

1a : to bring (as light rays) to a focus : concentrate

3 : to adjust the focus of (as the eye or a lens)

intransitive verb

1: to come to a focus : converge

2: to adjust one’s eye or a camera to a certain range

<newborn babies cannot focus for several months>

3: to concentrate attention or effort <she was already focusing on her next role>

I love it that focus is both a noun and a verb. We need to understand both the essence of focus and the actions that build or hinder it. Take a look at Webster’s definitions again. What particular words or phrases jump out at you?

Here are the words and phrases that caught my attention…my focus:

For distinct vision

Clearness…or clarity

Central point

Drawing the greatest attention and interest

To adjust

In two weeks I’ll share with you how I think those things relate to writing, both the act of writing and the career. (Next week my blog will focus on the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference, where both Steve Laube and I will be this week!) But first, I want to hear your thoughts. As you ponder the ideas and phrases above, how do you think they relate to what you’re doing as a writer?

Can’t wait to hear what you think!

16 Responses to Refine Your Focus

  1. Anne Love March 20, 2013 at 4:13 am #

    Adjustments imply flexibility and teachability in writing. Also, makes me think about publishing goals, marketing goals, character goals—refine, refine, refine.

    • lisa March 20, 2013 at 8:06 am #

      I love that thought refine.

  2. Ron Estrada March 20, 2013 at 4:30 am #

    Recently a well known author read my mystery manuscript and gave me great feedback. I’ve adjusted my focus to see through the eyes of the reader. What does she see as important? More importantly, what do I see as important that the reader will not. It really is an adjustment in vision. My writer’s focus is on the high elevation view of my story, which is fine for drafting and plotting, but when it comes time to put the story in readable form, I have to adjust my focus to that of the reader. It’s where I pick out the minute details that will stand out and tell the story without me getting in the way.

  3. Jeanne T March 20, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    “The center of activity or action…..” I’ve had many things grabbing for my attention this month. Some worthy, and some….not. I am realizing for my writing to move forward, I need to create time during my days where it is at the complete center of my activity–it has my complete attention.

    I’m learning what some of my writing limits are, and I’m making adjustments in my goals so I can be more productive as a writer. I’m looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts.

  4. Cheryl Barker March 20, 2013 at 6:54 am #

    My theme word last year was focus, and for me that meant “to concentrate attention or effort” on my book project — rather than work on too many things at once. This year my theme word is finish, and with God’s help, I’m getting closer all the time.

  5. Kathryn Elliott March 20, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    I’m at that “pulling it all together” stage with my MS, thus the verb use: converge, applies in spades. Knitting all the sub-plots together into one pretty blanket AND keeping true to the core story takes laser focus – and patience, lots and lots of patience. Safe travels to Mount Hermon!

  6. Rick Barry March 20, 2013 at 7:37 am #

    How focus applies to me right now: Last week I typed “THE END” on a new YA manuscript of 80,000 words. I’ve begun revising, but about 1.6 million other things vie for my attention. It’s as if the universe conspires to distract me from the vital job of revising/polishing. (Last night a friend who knows I’m revising emailed to ask if I’ve ever considered a minor tweak of my website. I’m thinking, “Let the website wait. Right now, the manuscript is way more crucial!”)

    There’s a time to be a light bulb, which shines in no particular direction. There’s also a time to be the laser–concentrated light that cuts through obstacles because it is focused on one point. For me, it’s laser time.

    P.S. The fact that I still pause to read your blog posts shows how much I value daily input from all of you at the Steve Laube Agency. Thanks to each one of you! 🙂

    • Jan Thompson March 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

      Congratulations, Mr. Barry! I will let my DS know that you have finished your draft. He is going to be thrilled.

      You brought up a good point about website management taking time away from writing. Sometimes it’s easier to hire a company to handle an author’s social media platforms so that the author can focus. I’ve thought about that eventuality (should my writing career take off), but I’m hoping to hire a college kid or someone I can afford LOL. Meanwhile I’m juggling it all myself and writing too.

      • Rick Barry March 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

        Jan, thanks for the kind words. Quite a few folks have let me know they are waiting for my next novel. Now if only someone will publish it! We’ll see. Blessings to you.

  7. Meghan Carver March 20, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    When I started writing again just over two years ago (after a several year break to complete law school and have six babies), I was overwhelmed with the variety of opportunities — blogging, short stories, nonfiction articles for periodicals, novellas, full-length novels, etc. I found that I needed “to concentrate attention or effort.” I quickly determined that my focus was fiction. I started blogging since everyone said writers needed blogs. I was gaining followers, an immediate gratification that kept me focused on the blog. But as I evaluated and prayed, I saw that blogging was taking my focus off of fiction. Essentially, it’s been a process of elimination to find my focus, then determining the priorities of what’s left. Great question, Karen!

  8. Pat Jaeger March 20, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    The second book in my series didn’t seem to flow. Steve recommended a book on plot and structure last year, and between that book and your focus on “focus”, I realize there are far too many plots vying for attention. Thanks for the help, Karen. Looking forward to the next session. Safe trip and God speed to you and Steve.

  9. Julie Sunne March 20, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Great timing, Karen, as this is my main area of weakness. Will be thinking on the following: “distinct vision” “clearness of image or clarity of mental perception” and “concentrate.” Enjoy Mount Hermon, on top of my bucket list of conferences.

  10. Jan Thompson March 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Yes, great timing! I’ve had to refine and redefine my writing focus this month, and decide what genre I really want to write in first, and which genres I need to put in the back burner (even though I like them all) so that I’m not pulled in many different directions. So many stories to write, so little time to write them all.

    I like what Meghan said about blogging taking time away from fiction. That is something I try to keep in mind every week as I update my blog. Again, so many things to say, so little time blog.

  11. Bethany Kaczmarek March 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Love it! For me, it was “clarity,” “effort,” and bringing it down to “a certain RANGE.” That last phrase affected me powerfully. It’s simultaneously freeing and convicting. If my focus is off, because I’m trying to take in (or do) too much, the picture blurs. Focus is crucial, and there’s a time for everything. Limit the range, put in the effort, enjoy the clarity.

    Priorities! Thanks for the post. Can’t wait to hear how Mount Hermon goes. May it be fruitful for both you and Steve!

  12. Peter DeHaan March 20, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Since focus is both a noun and a verb, that means I can focus my focus, right?

  13. Jenni Brummett March 21, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    The word ‘adjustment’ makes me think of the smell of Bengay at the chiropractor’s office.
    I’m heading to Mount Hermon tomorrow, and I have a feeling that I’ll need to make many alterations to the MS I sent ahead for critique. Painful at first, but beneficial in the long run.

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