life · writing

Singular Focus

Blank pages used to give me such a rush. My mind was boggled at the sheer amount of possibilities that the creamy sheet created. Would I fill it with the words of a science fiction novel? Would I write out five tidy paragraphs to make up a school paper on the novel Maisie Dobbs? Would I type up a lengthy email to send to my good friend in the Philippines?

In the past few weeks, however, blank pages have filled me with a sense of dread. How on earth am I going to write something new and original? Shouldn’t I be editing an earlier novel? I really should be doing my biology homework…

The pure joy of writing has vanished, replaced by the unrelenting guilt of all the other things I could be doing with my time. It’s not always homework that hounds me. A surprising amount of the time, I have my homework done and my textbooks stashed away before the sun’s gone down (today is not one of those times, I admit).

But there’s always something I think I should be doing. My nephew wants to play with me, or my siblings are watching a movie and want me to join them. Unedited novels sit around my room giving me the evil eye, and I wonder if I shouldn’t use this opportunity to get ahead in reading my Cultural Anthropology book. Unread library books add their two sense to the cacophony, leaving me wanting to jump into my bed and retreat from the world entirely.

Bear with me while I digress. A week ago yesterday, I rolled out of bed at five thirty in the morning. It was still dark out while I put on my jeans, hoodie, and stable boots, and ate a banana in the deadly silent kitchen. Then I drove half an hour to the stable with only the sunrise in my rearview mirror for company. I was the first one at the barn, so I sat on my car hood and watched the sun coming up, the horses in the pasture, and the birds on the fence.

I wasn’t doing anything just yet, but I felt perfectly happy. It was quiet and cool, the sunrise was beautiful, and the sight of horses alone was enough to make me ecstatic.

Normally, you couldn’t pay me to get out of bed at five thirty in the morning. But I had a job to do (feed the horses), people were counting on me, and I was looking forward to spending some quality time with the horses. At six in the morning, there was nothing else in the world to take my attention away from that job.

Fast forward to my current situation. My attention is being pulled in fifty directions all at once. School, writing, family, piano practice, reading – they’re all clamoring for all of my time and energy. I get frustrated easily; if I get frustrated enough, I’ll literally sit down and cry.

This brings me to my point:

Singular Focus.

When I’m sitting down to do my biology homework, that’s all I need on my mind: biology homework. When I sit down at my piano to practice, the notes on the pages before me is all I need to think about. And when I set up Tasha to write or pull out a novel hard copy, that is all I need to think about.

When I decide to do something, I should give it all my attention (within reason, naturally), or I’d be better off not doing it at all. Constantly thinking ahead, or sideways or backwards, only distracts me from what I need to be doing in that very moment.

And so, I’m going to take this moment and apply it to Summer Rush, because I’m falling behind in editing! Eeek!

Adios, peeps!

6 thoughts on “Singular Focus

  1. This is very true. I need to apply this awesome info as I have a thousand things to do at this point. I really should be doing History HW or guitar or editing for my beta or writing right now… o well. HAHA

  2. Ooh, great post Gabrielle! I love that phrase – “singular focus”, what a great paradigm. It gets rid of all that nasty guilt and self-doubt about what we’re “supposed” to be doing. I love this.

    I would also add something that tends to help me when I’m feeling unsure. Usually it applies to the books I’m reading: If I don’t like it, I stop reading it. Life’s too short! So I would say that for everything you can decide to do (homework isn’t optional, unfortunately!!!), just go with your gut, and do what moves you. If you feel like writing, don’t worry about editing other things, just go with it for now! Chances are you’ll have days where you feel like editing instead. 🙂

    Anywho I liked this insight a lot. That moment at the stable sounds like perfection.

    1. Yes, you’re so right! There are so many things demanding our attention, and it’s easy to get caught up in the unimportant things, or even the things that other people think we should be doing.

      It’s an awesome thing when you’re perfectly comfortable and happy doing what you’re doing, when you’re doing it.

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