Monday, July 21, 2008


Focus, Focus, Focus

Writer’s need focus. As much as we need all of the other elements in writing, focus is of major importance as we strive to become a better writer. Focus means to maintain a central idea throughout your work.

We also need to remain focused on what the idea is that we are trying to bring across to our reader. In an article, the focus needs to stay on the subject matter or your writing will become weakened and loose, appearing unstructured.

If your short story is about dogs, then there is no reason to go off topic and talk about the boarding of horses, or cat kennels. Veering off track loses your reader no matter how well you’ve portrayed your dog.

Within each paragraph there should be a beginning, a middle and an end. Focus on making a point. The end of the story or article will tie paragraphs together like a ball of yarn. The entire piece will be rolled up into a neat little ball and your readers will understand what you’ve said, without doubling back to see if they missed something.

Not only do we need focus in our writing of words, sentences, paragraphs and stories we need to focus as writers in general. Once you’ve begun writing a story it is so easy to become sidetracked and begin another tale without ever finishing the one that you started.

I’ve found myself on occasion starting a story, and one word can trigger in my mind another story. Off I go like a horse at the starting line and I begin another story. What have I learned to do? I have found that writing that one word down helps me remember what I was thinking about. And whgat idea I had in mind.

I return to my work knowing the one word is tucked neatly away on it’s own little document ready to inspire me again when I get the chance to go back to it. I go to my WIP and focus on bringing the intended story to the reader’s eyes.

While this doesn’t always work, it is my tried and true method to help me persist in staying focused with what I’m working on at the time. Staying focused also helps in other areas of your writing career. While we focus on writing, that means we’ve spent time moving our creative juices, we have an inspired plan and can now focus on one particular story instead of trying to write ten different stories at a time.

I know some of you can handle writing many different stories and remain focused, but for the beginner, I think it is more important to focus on one story so that each word that forms a sentence becomes a plausible paragraph. As the paragraph shapes itself, like a fine wine it can only get better as it ages. (not ages as in months or years, but letting it rest for days before struggling with revisions.

Then you can focus on other parts of your life like keeping yourself healthy and fit. Writers need to be of healthy mind, body and soul. If you’re aligned, you become balanced, if you’re balanced, your writing will follow you like a puppy and all will fall neatly into place. (Did I just veer off topic?) So much for MY focus! ;-)


June said...

Hi Joni,

I loved your take on the multiple levels and layering of "focus."


Even though I've been writing a while now, it is easy to get lost in writing story beginnings. I keep a file of story beginnings and ideas. That helps me to go back to the story I've dedicated my precious time on and to FOCUS on getting it done.

Take care,

Raven said...

I do tend to have several stories going at one time, but that's to keep my mind stimulated. Sometimes there's an overlapping that occurs, like when I like a character so much I bring him/her over from another story to see whether there's a role for him/her. Mostly, focus arrives with a trance. The kids could starve and I'd be tapping away. lol. A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a story and my hubby kept passing by my chair. Each time he'd rub my shoulders. It wasn't until much later that I realized I'd been writing for over six hours! No wonder my neck was stiff!
As for straying off topic in a story, it happens. I like to put in stuff I might want to use later on in the work. Sure does make for some long word counts, though.

Keep plugging away JOni. I'm reading your posts everyday, even if I can't always comment. Love the Sunday poem. I hope you keep that feature in your blog.


joni said...

I see that the Poetry Sunday is a great success and I WILL be keeping it!

It gives us all a break and allows me some time to ummm... FOCUS on more important things that go on within my day.

Thanks for all of your support ladies! It is what keeps me plugging away everyday!

Joni :-D