Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Staying Focused

Lately it’s been raining more than snowing, and warmer. The days are growing longer. The sun shines brightly. Most of the snow has melted, revealing the greenish-brown grass. Walking down the street I notice that people are smiling more. On this first day of April, the collective hope is that the cold, bitter winter we endured is finally behind us.

One of my biggest challenges is staying focused. On my days off (when I’m away from my day job), I want to spend my time working on my creative projects. These days, that’s mainly my writing. How do I stay focused when there are so many things vying for my attention? In the “limited” time I have, it’s difficult.

As cheeky as it sounds, I remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Some days will be more productive than others, and each day that I actually show up at the page and write means I’m making progress. I’ve also learned that writing can’t be all that I do. A day that I don’t write is like a day without coffee. I’m irritable. I’m grumpy. I don’t smile. A day when writing is all that I do can produce the same results. The best remedy that I have when I’m struggling to focus is to do more of the things I love to do.

I run. Not always fast, not always far. I don’t always feel like running; getting out the door is sometimes the most difficult of all. Once I’m out and running, it’s like I’ve entered a different world. Running gives me a chance to just zone out, clear my mind. Other times, I think about the piece of writing that I’m working on, and if I’m not sure how to take it forward, often a way is revealed as I run.

I cook. It’s another way for me to express my creativity. Making bread, apple pie, beef bourguignon, gougères, seafood chowder … There’s nothing better than sitting down to a home-cooked meal with the ones you love at the end of the day.

I remain positive. It’s easy to complain, to feel sorry for myself when things don’t feel like they’re necessarily going my way. I remind myself of my successes. I’ve been published; and I will be published again. I have a lot of people cheering me on, believing in me. I haven’t given up. That’s because I believe in me and that my dreams are worthy.

I treat myself, and celebrate even the tiniest of victories. Like when I go for a run on a day that I wanted to do anything but, I treat myself to a latte at Atlas Espresso Bar. Finishing the long, hard rewrite of a chapter or short story merits a trip to Colette Grand Café for their delectable French pastries. Looking up publishers to whom I could possibly submit my work means I can watch the last few episodes of the fourth season of Game of Thrones before the Season Five premiere.

Each one of these things helps me to stay focused and on task. They help to create balance between my creative endeavours, my day job and life in general. They acknowledge that one day at a time, one step at a time, I keep moving forward.

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