Rowing with One Oar

image courtesy of Gentaur, Wiki Commons, CC.

image courtesy of Gentaur, Wiki Commons, CC.

Hi everyone!

Holidays can really throw a curve ball in goals. Just pointing that out. If you’re like me, you totally forgot about the holiday when figuring the week’s goals. However, I’m hoping these oversights will soon be a thing of the past.

See, I’ve always battled between “schedule” and “flexibility.” Most of us know we need both. The trick is finding the balance between these mutually-exclusive needs. Schedule says, “DO IT NOW!” Flexibility says, “Is now the right time?”

Somewhere betwixt the two must be a peaceable fulcrum of magical time management. Right? *listens, but even the crickets are silent*

Over the past two years I’ve tried many methods. I’ve done hard and online calendars–one still emails my “daily schedule” from six months ago. I’ve tried timers, and am glad it was a software timer or I’d have thrown it against a wall. I’ve tried lists until the post-it’s turned into their own script-covered wallpaper. Pretty design. All to no avail, at least not in the long term.

And then, I came across two interesting concepts. One concentrated on a type of fast drafting and the other a method of time management. At their hearts both share a single concept: Dedicated Focus.

You see, we all have the same amount of time. And, we all have essentially the same amount of distractions, obligations, and personal wants. Yet some people get way more done. Are they just crazier in pursuit of their ambitions? Perhaps, but I think what sets these achievers apart is dedicated focus.

As writers we hear about other writers who can write in a busy conference hall until a minute before heading to the stage to speak (Hugh Howey). We hear about ones who are constantly taking notes, even at red lights. Racing to interviews. Living. Breathing. Pulsating. With writing.

And we wonder how they do it? Take away the glitter veil and the answer is dedicated focus. Which takes a bit of dedicated focus to gain.

Focus achieves. Focus drives. Focus guards against distractions. Put that focus into your desire to be a writer and the odds of success rise. Dramatically.

This is what I’ll be exploring over the coming weeks (months–years). And here is where I’m starting. Inglorious week.

ROW Goals

1) Write 500 new words of fiction a day, or the equivalent (3500 words) during the course of the week. Weeks count: 1258. Which is not 3500. No excuses except I allowed a bit more downtime for the holiday than originally planned. Keeping the goal for week two and “focused” on getting it.

2) Meet all college class deadlines with my best work. Right on track here. All assignments are in, quizzes at 100%, and I have solid A’s in both classes. We are at midterm, so I’m sure things will be heating up in the drive to the end. Keeping goal for week two.

3) Brainstorm ideas, take a look over what I’ve done and how I’d like to do things this time, and have a written return plan in hand by the end of the week. Goal completed. I have a plan in hand. That said, now I have to start implementing it. New Goal: Spend 15-30 minutes a day, up to 3 hours a week, writing or editing blog posts. Ship (publish) when ready. No hesitations.

4) Pick one stalled project (I have a few) and get it ready to ship. Total fail on this one. New week, more focus training will be applied to this goal: Keep goal into week two with more focus on getting it moved forward.

How did you do on your goals this week? Any thoughts on “dedicated focus” and what that means to you? I’d love to chat with you.

Peaceful Journeys.

About Gene Lempp

Gene Lempp is a writer blending elements of alternate history, the paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and horror for dark and delicious fun. He unearths stories by digging into history, archeology, myth and fable in his Designing from Bones blog series. “Only the moment is eternal and in a moment, everything will change,” sums the heart of his philosophy. You can find Gene at his Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, WANATribe, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
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10 Responses to Rowing with One Oar

  1. I’m not participating in ROW80 this time but here to cheer you on. I think you did well, considering you forgot about the holiday. You completed two of the four goals AND you wrote this week. Okay, maybe not as many words as you’d planned but, some is better than none. Living your life outside of writing is also important.
    In my opinion, you had a great week of progress and fun!

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Great points! Just to clarify, I’m not beating myself up over missing goals. Instead, I’m using the “failures” as a way of finding better ways to accomplish more. At least that is the goal. Thanks much for the support, Marcia. 🙂

  2. Julie Glover says:

    That’s a pretty good first week for ROW80, Gene! I know you didn’t nail all of your goals, but you have some wonderful progress. I do find that I get more done when I focus on a project or two at a time, instead of trying to juggling my many projects. So I’m learning that I focus on what’s most important next, and honestly let some other stuff slide until I must do it. I don’t know if that’s the kind of focus you’re talking about. I’ll be interested to come back and see what your focus looks like later in the round! Best wishes!

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Focusing on one or a couple of generally-related tasks seems to work best. I truly think that multi-tasking, for all its value at times, is highly overrated and leads to reduced performance and quality. Sometimes we do indeed have to let things slide, but with a bit of organization, the things that slide tend not to be high priority items. I am working on a sharable system (of course, because it is my nature) and look forward to sharing what I find, positive or negative, over time. Thanks for the support, Julie. 🙂

  3. Cate Russell-Cole says:

    Intriguing concepts Gene… May I throw in the weird idea on time, that occasionally delays can be the universes’ way of redirecting your timing so that you do write at a later date – after something else has happened and altered your perception, which will enrich what you do produce? I said it was weird… but I have seen it work. Of course, disclaimer: this is never to be used as an excuse for being lazy, held back by a lack of confidence or procrastinating. For some reason, it’s just in my head this morning.

    Cheers and happy rowing.

    • Gene Lempp says:

      The universe is a capricious child. While I do believe some delays lead to better opportunities, I also believe that in most cases those same opportunities would have been there without the delay. The one positive delay is one waiting for maturity or knowledge or other hard to define traits to rise to the level needed to accomplish the task, write the story, etc. So, in that aspect, I fully agree with you. My primary issue is “perfectionism procrastination,” therefore, focused confidence would seem to be the remedy. Thanks for the support, Cate. 🙂

      • Cate Russell-Cole says:

        The trick it knowing which it is… I guess that’s trial and error and I personally, prefer try anyway and apologise when you hit the dust – even if the apology is just aimed at myself.

        You’re a pleasure to support Gene. 🙂 Have an awesome week.

  4. You are so right about finding balance. Sometimes it requires so much energy just prioritizing that I just throw in the towel and do nothing. But then again, sometimes we need those days too.

    Good luck with this week’s goals.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Oh right with you in your sentiment. Organization itself can defeat productivity if we obsess too long on getting things in a “right order” or timing. Simple is effective for prioritizing–what has to be first? or what is most important right this moment? are two questions that need to remain at the forefront when planning. Another is setting an organizational time limit; say 10-15 minutes and then time to move, no matter what. I’ll probably post on this subject in the near future. Thanks for the support, Patricia. 🙂

  5. Pingback: MInd Sieve 7/8/13 | Gloria Oliver

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