Warning: Stop Shifting and Drifting

driftingHave you ever noticed that we never drift in good directions?

If you want to accomplish anything, it has to be by choice. “Drift” is our default setting when we allow outside distractions to capture our attention.

Have you drifted away from your writing goals set earlier this year?

Looking Back

Recall the last time you set some writing goals. Did your goals include X number of hours of writing per week, or X number of pages produced monthly? Did you sign up for one of the 30-day writing challenges? Did you perhaps start out with great gusto? Have you continued to consistently write and produce those pages?

If not, it’s because you stopped actively making choices. You let yourself drift.

When the Thrill Wears Off

I love canoeing. Paddling is great exercise for the arms, and gliding across a sparkling blue lake is heavenly. However, when the first thrill of being on the water gives way to tired, cramping shoulder muscles, the tendency is to stop paddling. We rest a bit, and that’s okay, letting our attention wander to the shoreline or herons gliding overhead.

But if you stay focused too long watching the wildlife or the cook-out on the shore, your forward motion stops. You begin to drift off course, whichever way the wind is blowing or the current is flowing.

Lost Momentum

Drifting occurs when we stop the forward momentum, and it never takes us the direction we want to go. With that fact in mind, consider the direction of your writing career.

When you made your writing goals, your writing had your attention. You were focused. You paid the price of giving up other distractions. You logged in writing hours and watched the new pages pile up.

But at some point, you got a bit tired. We all do! Something–or someone–caught your attention. And kept your attention too long. Now you’re drifting away from the writing career of your dreams.

Self-Assessment Time

Be honest with yourself about this. Has anything in the past six months or year captured your attention or affection in a way that is distracting you from your goal? Is there a distraction that started out small but has grown so that it takes up way too much of your time? (This could be a hobby or pastime, something that looks harmless or even good. It could also be a friendship that started out fine, but has somehow taken over your life.)

Is there anything (or anyone) you need to stop (or drop) from your life so you can pick up your paddle and get your canoe moving again?

Time for Action

If you’ve drifted from your writing goals, don’t keep on hoping that you’ll somehow magically drift back. You won’t. Drift doesn’t work that way. Drift takes the path of least resistance.

As a reminder: attention –> direction –> destination.

If you want your destination to read “successful writing career,” then you need to be headed in that direction. And in order to head that direction, you must choose to pay attention to your writing. This will probably require you to stop paying attention to something else.

An Honest Look

Be honest with yourself. What shifts in attention do you need to make in order to stop the drift and turn things around? Bite the bullet and make the changes. Start today!

And once you’re headed in the right direction again, guard against drift. Notice the things that compete for your attention. Pause. Take a step back before giving your attention to something. Remind yourself of the destination you want to arrive at. Then make the choice that will get you there.

If drift is a problem for you, scroll back up to the top right of this blog page and give me your email address. I’ll send you a free copy of my ebook Rx for Writers: Managing Your Writing Space and Your Writing Time. Its time-tested writing tips will help you get back on track ASAP.

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4 Responses to Warning: Stop Shifting and Drifting

  1. Maria says:

    Another great post Kristi! So true! I have had so many things jump in front of my writing and I have to continually choose to get back in it, time and time again. Which sometimes feels like failure, but I am realizing that it is not–it’s just LIFE–smile.

  2. There is so much wisdom in this concept! It can apply to every bit of life. A lot of my problem lately has been getting distracted by so many ways to go but not DECIDING. At this point in my life it might actually be better to DECIDE to give more of myself to other things right now, and DECIDE to focus on writing again once those things are dealt with. But being tugged in every direction and deciding NOT to decide is NOT going to help me!

    • kwpadmin says:

      Rockinlibrarian, that is so true at certain times of our lives. I did a post on that once, and it’s called decideophobia, or something like that. Just a caution: if you decide to focus on other things for a while, do yourself a favor and at least write in a journal for ten or fifteen minutes a day throughout the period. It will keep your writing muscles and mind flexed, so that when you can get back to more focused writing, you can quickly pick up where you left off. Good luck!

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