Focus: Avoid Split-Brain Writing

Over the weekend I spoke with a writer dealing with some worries that are daily robbing her of her hours of creative time. It reminded me of an earlier post on Fighting to Focus.

Where’s Your Focus?

From studies I’ve read, when you’re going through a crisis (yours or someone else’s), there is a single-minded focus that will help you regain your peace. And there’s a (more common) split focus that won’t help you at all. In all likelihood, it will make it worse. If your goal is to keep hold of your creative hours when problems hit, then staying calm is paramount.

Studies were done on people facing severe problems ranging from the terminal illness of a child to divorce (yours or someone else’s). The people under strain who re-gained and maintained their peace and continued to be productive did one thing very differently from those who fought desperately to be peaceful, but failed. This is a truth that can also apply to even the simplest worrisome problems you’re facing–worries that are stealing your writing time.

A Healthy Single Focus

The people who regained their peace and rode out the storm were those who had one focus: regaining their peace of mind. Once they did that, they were able to offer comfort and aid, but without worrying about the outcome of their help. And they could then focus on their own work.

A Split Focus

The people who continued to worry and obsess and eventually get sick had a split focus: they tried to regain their calm mind too, but they also tried to control some aspect of the outcome. They were trying to control another person or an event that was beyond their control. There is nothing quite so crazy-making as trying to control something outside your control.

Regaining Your Focus

The quickest way to stop worrying is to give up trying to control something you have no control over. Instead, pour all that wasted energy into regaining a calm mind. I use a variety of things: prayer, surrender, running, a bike ride, meditation, talking to a trusted friend, and watching uplifting movies. Find what combination works for you, and make that your single focus.

Get calm. Give your aid, if it’s healthy to do so. Then get on with your life.

If you’re consistent with this, you’ll find your emotions coming down out of the rafters and settling in nicely. And then you heave a sigh of relief, rest a moment or two, and head to your writing room.

Creativity awaits!

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