Hocus Pocus I need to focus. I stole that phrase from my 9 yr old daughter. I’ll be chanting it often as I have a clinical problem with focus.
Something some people don’t know about me is before writing full-time, I actually used to EARN money for a living. Yes, I can hear your collective gasps. Hello, I’m right here.
Sometime after getting the ax, a jealous co-worker kept tabs on me. She wanted to know what it was like to stay home, and she was especially curious with me since I complained there was never enough time in a day. She wanted a list of my daily activities. She couldn’t believe I was a busier person at home than I was at the office. So when it came to providing her evidence of a busy life, I came up with … nothing. I was a busy person with nothing to show for it. And three years later nothing has improved. Hocus Pocus I need to focus.
I then embarked on a critical self-survey: I documented my every move to see why I never get anything done. And why people can produce bestsellers in half the time while keeping a day job.
I start first with an organized list of what I should do and when. Whatever the day may bring, I must write from 9 to noon.
After a hectic morning of getting my daughter up and ready, making her breakfast, packing her lunch, going and returning from school, my real chaos begins at 8:30 … because now, I’m alone.
The big plan is to do chores until 9 then get to work writing until noon, at which point I am to do whatever is on the list: bank, store, yard and housework, bills, appts., etc.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENS
8:30 – 11 – Head for the dishwasher-phone rings. Talk to sister till 9. Gosh now must write. Go to computer, spend a few minutes catching up on MSN (today I learn how I can look like a rock star), read agent blogs, emails, critique forums, snark sites, then I pull up my book on Word. Phone rings (yes, I have caller ID, these are just the calls I do take). It’s my mom. 30 minutes later, back to computer. But wait, I should start the laundry first. Get up only to forget why, I think it was to eat. Go to pantry and organize it instead. Return to computer for about five minutes.
11- ish Oh look at the time. I jump up—not knowing why—and do a chore that can’t wait another minute—like overflowing litter box. I need to buy groceries, I’ll make a list. First I must read the newspaper ads, might as well read the whole newspaper. Should just do it outside since it’s a nice day. But look, my plants are dying. I pick up the watering can and discover my carnations are blooming. I get the scissors to cut a few for inside the house when the cat climbs on the screen to get out. I remember he needs his nails trimmed. While I’m trimming, I might as well get the clippers for the overgrowth of the jungle I’ve let my yard become. Become increasingly aware that my over-focused attention deficit has taken over my brain rendering me unable to have a complete thought without another intruding, I ponder again why my issues can’t be relieved by an ordinary sedative. I’m thirsty-want tea, with CAFFEINE. Back inside to heat water-3 minutes. Better stay close. I open the mail. Crud I need to pay the bills-go to the office for checkbook. Oh, look a new email or three. Water is ready. I jump up and make tea. Since I want iced tea, I have to wait for it to cool off. I’ll start that load of laundry I’d just remembered I’d forgotten. Go to bedroom for hamper, discover unmade bed. Must fix. Forgot why I came in there. Meander to the kitchen. Pour my iced tea. I want a lemon. Go to lemon tree and Good God there are a MILLION lemons. Get bucket, start picking. Maybe take some to a neighbor. She likes oranges too. I’ll pick those.
2pm. Skirt out the door to pick up daughter from school. After which, do all the driving errands that didn’t get done earlier due to a clinical case of Unfocus. “I have too much homework,” says angry child. “Why can’t you do these things while I’m at school?” Heavy sigh. “Because sweet child, mother was too busy.” In the backseat, arms cross in a hostile manner. “Just what do you do all day?”
Get home at 4pm-go through a completed ms-sized stack of school papers. Check email-Oh, look, my daily news from agent Nathan Bransford. Scan some of the comments—there’s only 200 today-notice my book is still up-should write. Try to quiet brain long enough for creative thought-here comes one. Husband just came in from work. Crud. It’s five already, where did the day go? Heat oven for pizza in a box. Come in later to write. What did I have to say anyway? Book needs edited, but can’t think-brain tired. Read other’s writing (books or critique group) until I remember what my book is about-will write. Have flow-will exercise said flow upon screen. My fingers are on fire … “How old is Patty in that scene?” The voice I hear is not from my head, but from behind me. My husband. And he is breaking The Rule. No one can watch me write. No one, I say. It’s over. I go to bed. Tomorrow will be different, I swear. I will stick to my writing plan. I will.
Hocus Pocus I need to focus.
Now not every day is exactly like that one. Every day brings me a new surprise as to just how unfocused I can become. Throw in a day where I think I can do something with my hair and I can forget the whole thing.
Some days I write my other WIP. It’s titled Attention Deficit: What To Do If It Suddenly Strikes You. There may be a long wait for its completion