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Focus!

Maybe with all the technological advances this doesn’t happen any more but, have you ever gone to a movie theater and the feature film or coming attractions are blurry.  Someone invariably turns toward the projection booth and shouts, “FOCUS!”  I need that shouting guy at my house.

cartoon of boy with magnifying glassI’ve been juggling two works in progress, the promotion of two e-books, formatting one of the e-books for on demand publishing, putting up my blog posts, reading other blogs, twitter, facebook, art, music, cooking, and chugging away through two books that I got for Christmas.  Oh yeah, and there’s my day job and last but certainly not least, my family.  Needless to say I feel pulled in a few directions.

photo of man in penguine costumeThe other day I saw a tweet from @petermrosenberg who wrote, “Have decided to write a novel about a guy who never gets around to writing a new novel because he’s too busy tweeting about his previous one.”  I also saw an interesting show the other night about the brain and the myth of multi-tasking. No matter what you believe, the brain can only process one thing at a time.  To illustrate that, they showed a routine by a hip-hop dance troupe. Half of the dancers were dressed in blue, the other half in red.  We were given instructions to keep track of the number of times any blue dancer stepped into either of two fixed spotlights.  I watched closely and felt good about the accuracy of my count—27.  The announcer asked, “Did you count more than 20?” Check. “How about more than 25?” Check again. I am good. “Did you see the six-foot Penguin?” Uh, penguin?  I missed that.

So right now my job, my family and my blog are garnering most of my attention.  My WIP, my artwork and most everything else have taken a temporary back seat.  I need to put my current book aside for now anyway to get some badly needed distance from it so that later I can sort out where it’s going. I’m not abandoning it, just setting it aside. I will eventually get back to producing some artwork too.  There is nothing like a shift in gears to help generate some new excitement in what one does.  When I try to do too many things at once, everything suffers.  This year I am not as concerned with how much I produce, but rather more concerned with the quality of what I do produce. Quality verses quantity.

Do what you are having the most success at. Do what you enjoy. Do what is important.  Ideally, all three of those would point you towards the same project.  Every journey is made one step at a time, we all put our pants on one leg at a time, he who has too many irons in the fire is likely to get burned.  There are probably endless cliches that can be used to make my point.

My creativity points in many different direction. Writing, art, design, music.  That reminds me of a scene in the 1971 animated movie called “The Point” by singer songwriter Harry Nilsson (I recommend it if you can find it).  At one point in the movie, Oblio, the main character, has been banished to the Pointless Forrest where he meets the “Pointless Man,” who is adorned with all manner of arrows and pointing fingers.  When the astute Oblio points this out, the Pointless Man replies, “A point in every direction is the same as no point at all.” Which takes me back to the beginning of this post. Focus. It’s pointless to try to do it all.

Illustration by Andy Black
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