Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Conquering Divided Attention-itis #IWSG


Happy February, Insecure Writers! I hope your 2014 is off to a great start. If you aren't yet a part of this wonderful group, click here and sign up. This month I'm so proud to be one of the co-hosts, along with M.L. Swift, Sheena-kay Graham, and Jamie Ayers.

What am I insecure about this month? Divided attention.

My YA novel, The Boy Who Loved Fire, was recently released into the big wide world. It's been a crazy, exciting ride, and I'm still in the infancy stage of publishing and promotion.

As I look ahead to the rest of 2014, I have plans and projects stacked up in my brain. Enough work to keep me out of trouble for a while! But way more important than that, I have a family—a supportive hubby and three teen sons who deserve my attention.

As busy writers, how can we manage our divided attention? I boil it down like this:

  1. Family first—it sounds obvious, but sometimes we get lost in a zone and lose sight of what really matters. Spouses and kids should not feel like they're in line behind writing. If there's something I absolutely have to get done now, I let my family know I have work to do and I'll see a movie, have lunch, or watch the starry skies in an hour. They understand if they know I'm working now, but will turn my attention to them when promised.
  2. Prioritize the work—I have the attention span of a 10-year-old (SQUIRREL!), so it's important for me to focus on one task at a time. I usually work on the most pressing issues first. Then I take stock of what needs to be done and make a list of priorities. I sometimes plug tasks into my iCal, based on what needs to be done when. This keeps me organized and on point.
  3. Drop everything and … have fun—In order to write about life, we must live it. If something fun and unexpected comes up, I'll drop everything and go for it. The work can wait.

What's your opinion on managing divided attention? How do you juggle it all? If you have any tips, please share!

60 comments:

  1. First, thanks for hosting IWSG today. Priorities? Oh yeah. We're supposed to have them. I'm fortunate that my children are grown & gone and have a fabulously supportive husband who doesn't mind my tunnel vision when I'm writing. What will tear me away from writing is a visit from my grandkiddies. They keep me grounded. Best wishes on keeping your priorities straight.

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  2. Thanks for hosting. And I love the premise of your book. Good luck - hope things go well for you.

    I'm afraid I'm not the poster child for proper priorities right now. Not only have I set a date for publishing my debut, but I've been giving every bit of myself to my high-need family for the last 15 years, and I'm tired. And, thus, suddenly selfish with my time. I know I need to find a balance, but it's not easy. Thanks for the reminder, though. It helps.

    IWSG #298
    (Yup. I got culled and had to start all over. *blush*)

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  3. Hi Julie,
    I keep a running to do list and prioritize it each day. It doesn't always work the way I'd like, but hey, that's life, right?

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  4. Oh, boy. I have the !Squirrel! complex bad. I can't pour a cuppa coffee without getting sidelined.
    Thanks for hosting this month!
    Author of Wilder Mage at Spirit Called
    Facebook Wilder Mage

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  5. First, thanks for hosting this month. Kudos to you moms who have kids at home and write too. I couldn't write when I had kids at home and owned/worked our own business. There's only so much one person can handle. Congrats on your new book and realizing family first!! Best wishes!

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  6. The balancing act can definitely be a hard one. It's good to have priorities though and not be so hard on yourself when something takes more time because of balancing it with other priorities.

    Thanks for co-hosting!

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  7. Have a real work schedule so everyone knows when you are working, including yourself! :) Happy IWSG day! Thanks for hosting.

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  8. Amen to that last statement. You really can't write if you're not living. You have to experience emotional ups and downs to draw on if you hope to have a moving piece.

    Here's to dividing and conquering!

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  9. I've kind of gotten used to having to divide my attention these days. I tend to read 3 or 4 books at the same time, and I work on multiple WIPs simultaneously, so trying to mesh my writing with my family time isn't too difficult. The family always wins, though.

    Thanks for host ing the IWSG this month.

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  10. Stating family first isn't that obvious sometimes. Our loved ones can get lost in our efforts to juggle everything if we aren't careful. Love that you made having fun a priority.

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  11. I suppose I should get out more like #3 says haha

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  12. I definitely need to drop everything and have fun.As soon as the storm subsides, again! Priorities are a given for me also. Family always comes first. Good Post. And I love you book cover and it sounds amazing!

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  13. Great tips. Family first of course. For me, my boys are grown and gone and live far away, so it's just the cats most of the time. I do give them time though.:) And live life, yes. A lot of good ideas are out there that we miss sitting in the house.

    Thanks for co-hosting today.

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  14. I think you're a wonderful mom and wife! My kids are out of the house now so I have more time to write. The things that go by the wayside for me, that shouldn't, are, paying bills, keeping up commitments for groups or guest blogging. I do try to prioritize. Since my husband is working all day, my list goes like this... Writing/editing, social networking, following through on commitments and then, last of all, taking care of household issues. Sometimes I even manage to get it all done! Thanks for co-hosting this month on IWSG!

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  15. This was such a great reminder about how important it is to not sit in front of a keyboard all day. I really loved #3. Thank you for co-hosting.

    Elsie

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  16. I am definitely less focused than I used to be - SQUIRREL could be my theme word. :) It's a matter of learning balance and sorting priorities, and that's different for everyone. Love #3!

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  17. Yes! Sometimes we do have to drop it all and have fun.

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  18. These are all good tips, though the toughest one for me is dropping everything to have fun. As a workaholic, I feel anxious when I take even just an hour off to have fun, because I keep thinking of all the work that needs to be done. But the downside of that is that I spent more time in my twenties working than I did having fun; now that I'm in my thirties, I've resolved to make more time for fun (though I'll still be a workaholic).

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  19. Three very good tips. I need to follow all 3 (LOL).

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  21. My ipad playing up! Longing that our life shall return to normal so that I can begin writing again.

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  22. Love the tips! You sound so organized.

    Thanks for co-hosting! So delighted to be with this group.

    Sometimes, my focus wanes. But when I do number 3 for a few minutes, it usually comes back. :-)

    SittieCates
    The Musings of a Hopeful and Pecunious Wordsmith

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  23. Speaking of attention span, I was reading your post, got up to pour some water, picked up my kindle . . . okay, I'm back! Thanks for sharing your list for prioritizing tasks, family, and fun.

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  24. OMG!!!
    You found time for hosting IWSG even in the midst of such a schedule, Yes, I could very well relate to many areas, of course family is important, and we need to prioritize the things properly otherwise things go awry
    Keep up the good work
    I just aired my post now
    Have a happy hosting as well as wonderful time of writing
    Philip

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  25. What great priorities. Family has to come first. Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month.

    Mary Montague Sikes

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  26. Sounds like your priorities are spot on. Family first and have fun. The work will always be there.

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  27. Thanks for co-hosting this month. It is a fine line between meeting our needs, both personal and professional, and those of our family. I also have teen boys!

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  28. With writing, I just give myself sacred writing time, at the beginning of every day. If I get to write more later, great, but if I don't, I know I've written in the morning. It means getting up an hour earlier, but it works!

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  29. The most important thing has to come first, whatever that is. If you need to focus on schoolwork or family, that should come before writing time. If writing is most important, don't have any distractions while you're doing it. I totally cut down on FB gaming so I'd have less distractions while writing.

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  30. Too true! Priorities, priorities. We have to assess constantly, and adjust constantly.

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  31. Sound advice, I do poorly on the first two, unfortunately, But I will be following no. 2 and try to force myself to focus on one and only one task at a time.

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  32. Thank you all for your comments, and even for your tips on managing divided attention. I can use all the help I can get! SQUIRREL!

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  33. Real people before fictional people every single time! Great advice :)

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  34. Your attention span beats mine by a few years, lol. Excellent advice!

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  35. Sounds like you have your priorities straight! 3 teens is a lot. I'm amazed you can do any writing.

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  36. How you do it all with kinds is amazing to me. I work really hard to balance things, but I always fall short. I just squeeze everything in and hope it all works out. Thanks for co-hosting today.

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  37. Those release times can be really time consuming. My plan for 2014 is to find more balance in my life and stop stressing about my writing time.

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  38. Divided attention is an epidemic among us insecure writers. Either we have to convince the rest of the world to stop turning while we write (totally doable, right?), or we have to focus on a few things that matter the most. Your list seems to choose the latter. Pretty wise choice. ;)

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  39. I remember having an attention span. Those brain cells died a few years ago - TWO SQUIRRELS. I often have to "take a meeting" with myself to prioritize. I find being accountable to my C.P.'s (yes you) helps me stay on track with the writing, and feel supported when life steals my writing time.

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  40. These are some very good tips. Balance is very important, both in work and life.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  41. Those are my tips too . . .it's like you copied my mind! Congrats on your novel :-) I'll have to check it out! I teach middle school--would it be appropriate for them too? Nice to meet you, co-host buddy!

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  42. Great tips! I need to do a better job on #3, and be more receptive to spontaneous events. Congrats on your release! :)

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  43. Divided attention - itis is definitely something I suffer from!

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  44. Can totally relate. Family and my full-time job have to come first. I have to squeeze in the writing and social media so it means my writing goes slower,, but that's the way it has to be.

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  45. You're right, Julie (and thanks for coming by). You gotta live life to write about it. And make that family time. It's great co-hosting with you!

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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  46. Family first and just have fun. Have to take care of both of those or you will make a very small world for yourself. Great post!

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  47. Thanks, guys. It's nice to keep ourselves grounded, and remember what's important. (Yes, there are things more important than writing!)

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  48. I like how you prioritize the fam with your writing. I admit that I've been buried under volunteer work lately, and I need to put family first more often. Luckily, this particular thing was a short-term thing, but I've dropped family and friends due to being so focused on it. Other than this, I do typically put family AND friends first, and make a point to get out and do fun stuff. I need to get back to that and remember the great points you made.

    The Warrior Muse

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  49. Now I'm learning about IWSG co-hosts. Thanks for doing this, Julie.
    I like to have a routine, and my priorities will have to change since hubby (bless!) has recently retired. At the moment I'm not very well placed to give advice on this. Fun is necessary, too. I think you're doing very well.

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  50. Like how your prioritize family first as it's the cornerstone of our lives. And, yes, YES to getting out and having fun. Umm, perhaps I'm a bit too guilty of that. :)

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  51. My favorite part is where you say, "to write about life, we must live it."

    Thanks for co-hosting the blog hop.

    Leanne Ross ( readfaced.wordpress.com & @LeanneRossRF )

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  52. In a way I feel quite fortunate to not have a hubby or kids that I need to give time to. For that reason I really have no excuse for being a slacker! ;) Sure, I work full time but it's not a hugely demanding job.

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  53. Oh, I SO struggle with this!! I just have to remind myself that yes, Family, FIRST, Writing, SECOND.

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  54. I love your priorities. I've had a problem with divided attention myself, but like you said, family first!

    Thanks for co-hosting and grats on the book!

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  55. So wonderful and SO true, Julie. I think one of the best things about getting older is that I'm learning how not to stress as much. I'm learning to enjoy the times when I'm relaxing with family and not berating myself that I *should* be working--but also enjoying the times when I am working. Gah. Such a balance! :)

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  56. Thank you for this lovely post. Congrats on your book, Julie. And thanks so much for all your support.

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  57. Guys, just today I was stressing about all that I needed to get done. I had to remind myself to chill out! *deep breaths*

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  58. Hi Julie.
    I know that IWSG has come and gone, but I wanted to pop in to say a belated thank you for co-hosting IWSG this month!
    I also wanted to say congrats on the book release... it's so exciting! I can imagine how you must be feeling!
    Keep Well.
    Writer In Transit

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  59. Good luck finding that balance. I find that some things get more priority and some things get less, and I constantly need to reassess and shift. We all do the best we can, right?

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