Zabowska's Blog

November 19, 2009

Are you a Focused or Fragmented Writer?

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 8:46 pm

     I was just reading Kristi Holl’s blog for the week this morning. And I found
   so many gems of wisdom in it. I was so impressed by the whole thing, that I
   decided to quote her entry for November 11th right here in my blog.
   I think the topic of focusing is so important for writers. I cannot overestimate
   how important it has been for me. I write academically and creatively. I have
   to take the time to do many different projects in my work week. So, Holl’s
   idea of working on a project for an hour and then moving on to another one
   is absolutely brilliant. I will definitely try it.
   For Kristi’s whole Blog for this day and other very helpful blogs, please visit
   her at:
   Fragmented? Or Focused?
   By Kristi Holl
   November 11th, 2009                    

   Bouncing Off the Office Walls
   My own writer’s personality prefers working on one project at a time. I like
   to fully immerse myself in the characters and plot, writing and rewriting,
   rethinking and editing, polishing and submitting. In the early years, before it
   was my career, I could do it that way. Everything was written and submitted
   “on spec,” and no one was waiting with toes a-tapping for my prose, so I
   could take my time  and do one thing at a time.       
   Just thinking about what needed to be done today put my brain in a cramp.
   My little neurons short-circuited up there, and the brain waves came to a

   What to do?
   First, today and every day, I need to accept the fact that (except for the
   lessons and critique), none of the other things will get finished today. I need
   to make my “to do” list reflect this, and yet move each project closer to
   completion. (I’ve tried just working on one thing at a time before, but I found
   I lost mental contact with my fiction characters and had to keep starting over.
   Working on the books daily helps me “remember” who everyone is and
   what comes next.)
   I’ve discovered that if I make a “to do” list that says I will write for one hour
   on each project that needs to be moved along, then I will do that. I set my
   kitchen timer for one hour, get my project papers out and ready to go, put on
   blinders, start the timer, and then focus on that one project for an hour.
   I don”t get up during that time or think about any of the other projects. I
   work on the computer that will NOT connect to the Internet, so there is no
   temptation to check email. I let my answering machine take calls. [NOTE:
   This is me on a good day like today. The “yesterday” me made the mistake of
   getting online early in the morning, and it was downhill from there! Will I
   never learn?]
   But just an hour?
   Can you get much accomplished in an hour? An amazing amount! I am
   constantly surprised how much just fifteen minutes of concentrated writing
   time can produce. At the end of a writing day where I’ve focused one hour
   on each project, they all have moved along significantly toward the finish
   Do I like writing this way? Not really. But I’ve discovered that I can write
   many more hours in a day when I change projects  about eight hours, as
   long as I stretch a lot. Writing on the same novel, I am fairly burned out in
   four hours of writing (four hours total, usually a couple of two-hour
   sessions.) So productivity is higher when I have to work on multiple projects
   with multiple deadlines.

   Maybe  in the end  I”ll enjoy working this way for that very reason. In the
   meantime, it’s a good way to get the work done. Try it  you might like it too!

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