Sketchbook #31

When it comes to the big picture, I have a three-month attention span.

It takes three months for that initial burst of energy and enthusiasm to fade.

It takes three months to lose sight of my big goals, and get bored with the day-to-day grind required to achieve them. Three months to start to question whether those goals are actually possible, and whether I’ve got the drive to see them through. Three months to start thinking ’I don’t feel like writing today. I’ll make it up tomorrow.’

In other words, March was difficult.

Not impossible. I put together an almost-complete outline for Violet Lane in about a week, and I’ve been working on a new photo project that I’m really enjoying. Plus, I had a few days in which outside forces conspired to keep me from doing much at all, and that annoyed me enough to push me to start moving again. But that kind of motivation doesn’t really last very long—a week later I was doing things again, but I was feeling stuck, too.

So.

I’ve been taking some time to get myself focussed again, to remind myself what I want to be doing and why I’m doing it. I’ve been looking at what’s stopping me from doing those things, at what gets in my way and keeps me from writing, or taking photos, or whatever it is, and I’ve been coming up with ways to avoid falling into those old familiar traps. I’ve been looking at the way I spend my time, and how I organize my work, and just generally trying to figure out how to do things better. I’m doing what I can to eliminate the worst of my distractions, the ones that steal my attention and don’t give anything back in return. I’m looking at how others have pulled themselves out of ruts like this, and seeing what I can apply to my own situation.

And, as I write the current draft, I’m trying to pay attention to how I’m doing it, what works and what doesn’t. I’ve spent too much time only vaguely aware of my own process, and so, every time I start a new story, I’ve got to figure everything out from scratch. Again.

This all sounds kind of clinical. Maybe it is. But I feel good about the way things are going right now. Violet Lane is progressing nicely, if slowly. I’m on a bit of a roll with the photo project (having fresh flowers on hand helps with that… I’m not quite sure what I’ll do when they finally start to fade). And, a step at a time, I’m getting back on track.

I’m not there yet. Of course I’m not. It’s going to take a while to figure this out. And I’m not going to try to make a hundred changes at once – the temptation is there, but if I do too much too fast, I’ll just end up overwhelmed and right back where I started.

But I’m moving in the right direction. That’s the important thing.