Last month, in the conflict blog I hinted at the conflict working on this book has on my personal situation. This mainly has to do with focus. An important question for me this year is: “how do I keep focus on this project while working full-time and doing other things.”
While I just could count the amount of hours that would remain in a week after I detract work, travel, sleep etc. and allocate them to writing the answer is not that simple. There are other factors at play which I will try to cover a bit here.
But before I continue you should know that I view the current pandemic as a blessing as it is a restriction on my freedom. Whilst we all have been (mostly) stuck inside I had the time I normally spend on playing volleyball and volunteering for the local beachvolleybal event extra during the months March-July. Which is a lot of free time I’ve had to spend on my book. This is one of the main causes I’ve progressed this far because less distractions equals more focus.
But there is another side to this as well. I don’t want to overdo things. When you watch or listen to the inspirators of the world they often tell you in one way or another to lose ALL distractions while you are working towards your goal. And my advice to you, dear reader with a similar huge project on your hand is: don’t overdo it!
Be kind to yourself. Spend time relaxing and doing things that distract you from your project. For me this is so very important, because there is that 40 hour workweek and I need to spend time each week on listening to music and podcasts, watching Netflix or playing a video game, just as a sanity check. Because delving into Sci-Fi fantasy worlds is as much part of me as it inspires me to keep working on my project. The last thing you want is to burn out because you’ve pushed too hard. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Progress with baby steps is also progress, so even if I only read what I’ve written for a half hour during the workweek or jot down some quick notes on paper there is progress. But still it might be tough at times to continue, so there are instances where I’ve taken breaks for a couple of days to catch that focus again. Know that for me this is a project of the heart, and I will keep working on it until it’s finished.
Another aspect is being aware of my to do list. If I would make a pile of all the books in my posession I still want to read I’m sure it would reach the ceiling. But reading is a thing that currently is a bit left behind in my schedule until I finish writing this book. Partly because I don’t want to get caught in an epic story and forget about my own for two or three weeks. And partly because I feel like writing is the single most important thing for me to do now.
But sometimes there are exceptions when something triggers me. For example I was listening to a Dutch podcast interview with John Strelecky (interview is in English) and realised I own one of his books: Life Safari. So I read that one (it is not that big) and made some notes about my Big Five for Life. I found that one of my Big Five for Life is this story, this book I am writing. It is such a big project that I cannot oversee it or know where it will take me next. But it is a heartfelt wish I’ve had for a long time and I am happy to dedicate the time towards it.
The TLDR might be less distractions equals more focus. And I do feel quite focussed on the project. But while it might seem to the outside reader I have killed all other distractions, this is not entirely true. Though the project is never truly out of my mind and each day I try to spend some time on it. I know I could free up much more time working on it each day. And by doing that progress would be much faster. But there is the matter of being kind to myself and enjoying the process. Though sometimes I am not doing that at all, I know there will be that sense of accomplishment once it is done. And to know how it feels, the focus of working towards such an achievement, is a blessing in itself.