“Focus and Finish”

My writer’s group has been connecting during the pandemic on What’s App. This was the first time I had used this tool and it has been a wonderful way to have short, meaningful conversations with my fellow writers in between our monthly Zoom meetings. It has been a source of inspiration, a sharing of resources that others in the group have discovered or have been using, and it has been about all things writing and has served as a terrific source of support.

One of the gems that one member of our writer’s group passed along was a new mantra she had been using that was short, snappy, and helpful to keep writing in spite of all of the distractions from the pandemic and the anxiety that has been a natural result of it. The mantra was simply, “Focus & Finish”.

As I have worked over the past five or six weeks to rebuild my daily routine, I have found myself sliding into a place of procrastination when it comes to writing. Typically, in the past, whenever I have noticed that I am procrastinating, I have been able to trace the root of why I am delaying doing something, to fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and fear of judgement by others have been the usual reasons why my writing practice stalls.

I have several short stories that need editing so I can continue my long term goal of submitting my work for consideration to be published. Earlier this year I had committed to the process and set out to try and collect as many rejections as possible this year. Writing deadlines for open submissions as well as writing contests for short fiction are currently looming over my desk and I am struggling to find the motivation I need to finalize the edits needed and submit.

My experience with the COVID-19 pandemic seems have inadvertently created a previously unknown obstacle. My ability to focus on longer term goals has gone by the wayside as our lives hang in a weird kind of abeyance. Procrastination typically is a tug of way between what we hope for and wish to see in the future and the action we need to take in the present to accomplish those things.

And normally when procrastination makes itself known, it is fear that gets in the way.

But right now, I can’t identify any fears other than worries about COVID-19. And it seems to have been the spark for this current bout of procrastination in my life. This new inability to sit down and finish what I know has to be completed, has been a strange kind of struggle. I have come to recognize that it is likely an emotional coping response to the pandemic. So, when my writing colleague suggested that her mantra, “Focus & Finish” was helping her to keep going, I thought I would give it a try.

Has it worked?

Well sort of… I am still blogging, and I have at least opened the files of the pieces of writing that have need of my attention and editing efforts. I have created a sticky note with these two words and attached it to the side of my computer monitor and am going to try to overcome the pandemic anxiety which has inserted itself into my life as an unwelcome guest. I need to practice using the mantra and am hoping it will stick and help me move along.

“Focus & Finish.” “Focus & Finish.”

“Focus & Finish….

Stay healthy and well!

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