Monday, March 9, 2015

How I Learned To Stay Focused

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that, for most writers, the #1 biggest issue with getting any sort of writing done is... ohhh look, a butterfly!

Okay, let me try again - is staying focused. 
 Now give me a cookie!

For me, this 'focusing thing' started around the time I was, well.. born. The common mantra in my home was, "Your son is smart Mrs. Carson, but he just seems to have problems focusing."

I'm not sure why I was that way. I suppose it was just the way my brain worked. I took everything in like a vacuum, as long as it interested me. But if I found it boring, well... then it got blocked out. 

I feel the best way to describe my brain is with this photo. 

Just add a teacher, parent , or friend talking off-camera, and 
it's a perfect example of how my brain works.

So yeah, focusing...


Needless to say, this was a curse and a blessing. On one hand, I found it hard to focus. On the other, if something DID catch my attention, I would focus on that ONE specific thing like a hawk. Things like cleaning my room, making stop-and-go videos with my Legos, or making collages became weekend long events. I would lock my bedroom door and get lost in my work - and I enjoyed it! 

I suppose it was the process I enjoyed most. 

Meanwhile, I floated through school, struggling to keep focused on the subjects I found boring. It was a fight, but eventually I figured out a way to make it less painful. Stories! I would make up stories for everything! Math? - I would create a fairy-tail around times tables: "Prince Roy needed to know what 7x4 was, or his princess would die! But wait, the troll tricked him, and now he must know them all!"

I know this sounds insane, and a long process to simply remember such things, but it worked for me. This is probably why I fell in love with writing. 

Writing was an excuse to daydream, 
and not get in trouble for it! 

BUT...

Years later, after school, my dreams of becoming a writer faded. Working for a living, movies, and playing video games took over my life. My focus was hijacked by Doom, GTA, Bond, Mario Cart, and Madden. For someone like me, games were my fix. My drug. My escape. 

 

But the itch to write always lingered. I would go to book stores and buy journals, but only fill the first few pages. I must own at least twelve journals with less than three pages written in them. 

Like a lingering ex-girlfriend, my writing would beckon to me, but I only flirted back.

THEN...

I turned thirty. They say (they = those older and wiser than us) things change when you turn thirty. Thirty brought a sense of adulthood I found unfamiliar. A place I had never been. Expectations seem to change around that age. Maybe it's self inflicted. Maybe it's those around you demanding more from you. Either way, the fog of focus lifted a bit for me at thirty. My brain allowed some of the fence to come down, and I could see those talking off-camera a bit clearer. It was a real "Welcome to planet Earth," moment for me.

It was time to try my hand at writing once more! 

But first, I would have to cut-off the things that stole my focus. Video games were number one, so I made a deal with myself: I would only be allowed to play a game equal to the time I wrote. 

For instance: One hour of writing = one hour of gaming.

At first, it was tough to keep myself to these rules, but eventually it worked like a charm. More often than not, I would end up writing until I got tired. I started to find joy in creating my own characters, stories, and universe.

My focus found a new drug.

 It's Iced-Tea.

Sure, I still played games. I actually beat 'Assassins Creed IV Black Flag' and played most of the 'Pinball 2' tables while I wrote 'A SPACE STORY' - but they were rewards, not rights. I suppose it's like exercising... I wouldn't know... I hate exercising. Let me know! 

I still have a love/hate relationship with writing. There are still days when I feel no urge to write at all. It's part of the process I suppose. But now, I have a much better handle on the focusing end. I think the 9 year-old Tig would be proud of the 30-something year old Tig... as soon as he pulls his eyes from the television! 

 Turn around and focus, Tig!

 

2 comments:

  1. Tig, you have done a great job of putting this into words. I love games myself, usually the long involved ones with tons of story and massive worlds to explore. I was laughed at often by my spouse because I would drive around in Brutal Legend for hours just listening to the tunes and ramming into beasties. I haven't given up games entirely, but can say honestly that I've spent less than 2 hours gaming in the past three months. I just haven't had the desire. I would rather write, if not write, then read, if not read, then watch something apocalypse related. Usually I write, or try to write. Gotta love those days when the words flow like liquid, or like water even! Great post, now I need to get back to writi-oh look, twitter just flashed something at me.

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    1. Thanks John! We are definitely in the same boat! I still play games as well, but the want has lessened since the writing took hold. Though, with the promise of Santa bringing a brand new console this Christmas (wink wink) I'm hoping the writing bug doesn't give way to all the new games! LOL.

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