I had one of those lightbulb moments about another sporting technique that can easily be applied to writing.
One of the most difficult things for a performance athlete to learn is total focus. This means learning that while you must address the things that are within your sphere of control, you must equally well learn to put out of your mind all the things over which you have no control – such as judges, audiences, or the environment. If you worry about the uncontrollable variables, your mind is not fully where it needs to be to produce a top class performance.
This can equally well apply to writers: while you are writing (and not performing any of the many, many associated tasks authors have to also perform, such as marketing, networking etc.), to be productive, you should put all possible distractions aside – especially those that you cannot control, such as emails arriving, external noise levels, weather, etc.
But how to do this?
One of the techniques performance athletes use is the ‘bubble‘.
- Visualise yourself inside a sealed bubble.
- Take everything you might need into the bubble with you – whatever you write on, writing software, notes, thesaurus etc.
- Now deliberately exclude all the things you don’t need, like concerns about housework, tasks you must do later, emails that need replies, marketing that needs doing etc. Always include everything you can’t influence and put ALL of them outside your bubble.
- Once you have your bubble set up, keep on imagining yourself inside it, no matter what goes on around you. You can play with personalising your own bubble: how thick the skin is, and how opaque you want it.
- Your bubble will keep out anything you don’t need for the task ahead: writing!
- You can take your bubble with you if you need to go for a coffee, or a comfort break – don’t pop it until you are ready to finish the task at hand.
Clearly this takes some effort in terms of visualisation, but this just takes practice, and if you really want the protection from those pesky outside influences that ruin your productivity, why not try this tried and proven technique?
You have nothing to lose.
Writers, do you use a technique to help keep you focussed? Or are you just very organised? Do share.