August 09, 2022

FOCUS by Joylene M Bailey

 


During the first year of the pandemic, I was more prolific in my writing than at any other time in my life. There were no pressures from the world to DO something, and no expectations to BE anywhere. We were forced to stay home, and there was time, time, and more time to be completely focussed. And I was indeed focussed.

It was a lesson for me. I mean, I've always known I need time, space, and quiet for the creativity and focus to write. But I had no idea how creative I could actually be when given that time in large chunks.

I think I've been looking for that kind of scenario ever since.

However, the thing about a pandemic is that it's not usual. In real life - dare I say normal life? - distractions are a given. But not all distractions are the same.

The doorbell rings, dinner needs to be made, and Grandma! Grandma! Grandma! in my ears if I'm trying to write while spending time with my favourite small people, are little distractions that niggle and interrupt.

For about a year now, The Cowboy and I have been dealing with the big distraction of moving: sorting, purging, packing, repairing, and staging one house to sell, while designing, building, furnishing, moving, and unpacking into the new house.

Pretty tough to concentrate on what writing projects make my heart sing when I'm consumed with whether our wall corners should be rounded, squared, or chamfer, or what to do with all the doilies Grandma made me over the years. These seem like small decisions. But hundreds of small decisions like these add up to thousands and, well ... that's a lot for one brain to process. Not a lot of room for writerly creativity.

In all the busyness and what seemed like too many things to do at once, I found me scolding myself on many occasions. Focus, girl! Just focus. Getting one job done at a time eventually gets them all done.


My ideal writing day would be to get up early - 6 a.m. - and head straight to my desk, with my coffee, to write for a couple of hours before breakfast. I'm most creative first thing in the morning, and my new library, with the big windows that look out on the sunrise, fosters creativity. I can be focussed then while the house is still quiet.

That would be my ideal. But as we all know, real life won't always be like that. I hope I'll be disciplined enough to leave my devices in another room and keep computer notifications turned off. I hope others in my house will honour the rule that when my library door is closed that means I can't be interrupted.

This new home in a new place inspires me to start a new routine with regular rituals and specific hours to focus on writing. It's a new season. What better time to simply begin.

~~~~~

Photo by Alexa at Pixabay



Joy is loving her new home in the country with The Cowboy, where distractions still live but somehow seem not so threatening. Find more of her joy-infused writing at Scraps of Joy.  





August 08, 2022

The Happiness of the Undistracted by Bob Jones

 



“Living on purpose is like a horse wearing blinders.”
Bob Goff

 

“We won’t be distracted by comparison if we’re living on purpose.” Bob Goff

 

Hands up if you are struggling with any of the following:

 

Procrastination

Anxiety

Self-esteem

Forgetfulness

Creativity

Focus

 

You are not alone.

 

Ask yourself, “Am I easily distracted?” If you answer “No” then you are more distracted than you understand. That is me. The reality is that when I am consuming more than I am creating my consumption leaves me feeling bloated with a diminished appetite to create. Life gets blurred between the physical and the digital.

 

Did you know some sidewalks in China have cell phone lanes? Now before you get distracted and venture off to Google if the absurd is true, stay focused on what you are reading. (It is true.)

 

Tempted

I am tempted to pay attention to the last text, message, or e-mail I received. The trivial and the crucial occupy the same plane when I fall prey to that temptation.

 

In 2022 we suffer from thinning attention spans and diminished capacity for deep thinking and creativity. Each of us possess a finite store of attention to pay to ideas and to people. Whether we’re trying to keep up with an excessive number of information sources or hundreds of Facebook “friends,” we’ve got only so much attention to spread around. When we keep up with so many ties, our ties can’t help but get thinner.

 

Have you noticed that as we become increasingly distracted, we have to work harder to catch ourselves in the acts of distraction? It takes a great level of awareness to notice our distraction.

 

Bob Goff, in his latest book, Undistracted, writes, "A thousand unnoticed distractions are preventing you from living with the kind of focused purpose that will produce the life you are longing for."

 

Here’s a few thoughts on finding happiness by facing the frenzy of distractions.

 

Keeping Distractions at Bay

 

1. Become aware of why you fall prey to distraction.

There is an attention economy at work. Businesses pay good money to distract you towards what they are selling.

In social media the likes, comments, and connection requests trigger delightful hits of chemical stimulants in our brains.

Distractions are addictive.

Fear of missing out is the fourth horseman of the distraction apocalypse.

 

Awareness acts like God’s nudge towards securing my identity, worth, and fulfillment through my purpose.

 

2. We need periods of uninterrupted time to feel creative. Dedicate focused amounts of time to write with no digital distractions. I turn off email and silence my phone. 50-minutes is my sweet spot but if I am able, I will write longer.

 

3. Give God and your work your undistracted best. I optimize my most energized hours. The optimal time for me to create is between 6am and 8:30am with less between 8:30am and 1:00pm.  I start my days before 6am, by reading a scheduled portion of the Bible, journal and pray. That process is a daily reminder of why I exist and who I serve.

 

4. On a larger scale than just writing, become captivated by something much bigger and much better. My self-esteem comes from God’s estimate of me. My peace of mind comes from working and living out God’s purpose. Likewise, happiness is a by-product of choices I make to put God first.

 

Bob Goff offers a friendly reminder to be attentive to the ultimate goal for our lives as Christ followers, “It doesn’t matter what the work is; it is who we become in the process of doing our work that does, and the goal is to look and act more like Jesus while we do it.”

 

We don't need more facts to find the purpose and kindness and unselfishness we long for. We need a firmly seated faith, a few good friends and a couple of trustworthy reminders.

 

I know you can dedicate August as a month of becoming aware of distractions and freeing yourself for the creativity that makes you happy.

 

 


I write to grow hope, inspire people to be real, forge an authentic faith in Jesus, and discover their life purpose.


Please follow my writing at REVwords.com

I would love to hear from you.

August 05, 2022

Getting Into the Zone by Ruth Keighley


To write or not to write? That is the question. As writers we are often given the advice to spend some time writing each day even if it is only for a brief period of time. For many of us this involves a lot of discipline. By nature we tend to let our moods and attitudes dictate when we will sit down and put our thoughts on paper.

Personally, I struggled with the inclination to wait until it ‘feels right’. Am I free from either physical or mental distractions? Do I ‘feel’ inspired to write? Is it imperative that I meet an impending deadline? Do I write because I sense a pressing need and longing to do so?

In earlier times I failed to discipline myself because I still did not have the confidence to believe that my writing was worth the effort. I wonder what I have missed because of that attitude. I wonder what my potential readers have missed because of it. Possibly I have failed to write that masterpiece because of my lack of confidence.

I have found through practice, I can ‘get into the zone’ more readily. It requires consistent, unswerving commitment to honing my craft. This is where that illusive discipline comes into play. At times I sit down to write because my thoughts will not let go of a particular idea and writing it down will put it all into perspective. During the last two years, throughout the covid crisis, I have developed more discipline and have spent almost everyday writing something. The results have been amazing as I’ve seen some of my work accepted for publication.

These attitudes towards writing can parallel our mind-set towards the time we spend with the Lord. Daily, consistent prayer time has become a discipline that I must faithfully pursue. It does not always come naturally to me to seize those day-by-day moments.

Many attitudes may determine the time I spend in prayer. Am I free from physical and mental distractions? Do I ‘feel’ like it? Do my circumstances compel me to pray? Do I sense a pressing need and longing to spend time with the Lord?

God invites us to spend time with him. In Hebrews 4:16 he encourages us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  He wants us to come as we are and not wait until we are “in the zone.”

At times I wonder what blessings I may have missed because of my lack of discipline. What longings have gone unanswered? I wonder what blessing others have missed because I have not been faithful to spend time with the one who invites me to come habitually into his presence?

When I consistently commit myself to spending time with the Lord, prayer becomes second nature to me and it results in a beautiful, regular and satisfying relationship with God. The rewards are unmistakable and well worth the effort. Let us all dedicate ourselves to improving our resolve to both write and pray consistently. I love the saying I heard at a writers conference once, “learn to write on your knees”. The two go hand in hand. 


Ruth is a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She lives in Warman, SK. She enjoys writing, reading, jigsaw puzzles and embroidery.


August 04, 2022

Learning to Wait by Susan Barclay

 

I'm at a stage right now where, in addition to the technological distractions that consume many of us, life itself is a distraction from my writing. I hate to harp on it, but between working part-time and caring for my mom full-time, writing is on the back burner. The waaaay far back burner, out of reach at this time. 

I suppose the good news is that God sees, God knows, and God cares. He knows how He's gifted me, why He did so, how and when He plans for it to be used to the full. In the meantime, my role is to accept my circumstances and commit all things to His timing and ways. What's important right now, what's important always, are the people in front of me whom God has given me to serve: my husband, my mother, my young adult children.

I am learning to wait, which is a very necessary skill. The Bible speaks of many who had to wait before the Lord fulfilled His promises to, or purposes for, them. I think of Noah waiting for the rain even as he worked on the ark; of Abraham and Sarah waiting for the birth of their son; David waiting for God to deal with Saul and install him as King of Israel; and more.

Some scriptures encourage me:

Psalms 27:13-14   I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!


Psalms 37:34  Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.


Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.


Isaiah 30:18   Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.


Isaiah 40:31   but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.


Lamentations 3:25   The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.


In addition to reading scripture, there are other things I can do as I wait. I can worship. That is time that is always well spent. I can listen to Lectio 365 morning and evening devotionals to encourage my heart. I can squeeze in moments of reading for learning or pleasure when I'm eating breakfast alone, or on my work break, or waiting for the doctor to call my mother in for her scheduled appointment. Reading is an important activity for writers as we learn from both good and bad writing and get ideas for subjects we might want to explore further through our own work.

All is not lost during this season of distraction and waiting, therefore I will neither moan nor mourn. Instead, I set my face toward the One who made me, who knows me, who planted in me the desire to write, and trust that He is birthing something new. And I believe it's gonna be great - because He is!

___________________________

For more about Susan Barclay and her writing, please visit www.susan-barclay.blogspot.com

August 01, 2022

How to Fight the Distractions ~ Wendy L. Macdonald



 

A recent nudge from God I received during a worship service goes well with this month’s topic. But first, let’s talk about the writing prompt Sandi Somers gave us for August. It has the potential to propel us forward in our projects if we tap into what works well for our writing journey. 

~

Here’s the prompt by Sandi Somers: 

“August: Fight the Distractions 

Our world is filled with distractions—technological, commercial, and more—that keep us from focusing on our writing and the important things in life. 

How have you dealt with (or currently are) taming the frenzy of distractions? 

How do you pay attention to what’s important, being attentive and engaged?

How do the Lord’s nudgings propel your writing and life forward?”

~

Today I’m sharing my worst weakness and my greatest strength as a writer. Maybe you can relate. However, writers—like all people—are unique individuals. Work habits that work for one writer may not work well for another.

Each writer also has unique strengths and weaknesses. My weakness is that I’m easily distracted at the beginning of a writing session. To curb distractions, I usually write in the early hours of the morning. My phone is muted and turned over so that it can’t interrupt me. I use my laptop offline and keep a paperback dictionary nearby, so I have no reason to Google anything. I’m prone to wander down information trails. 

In fact, before I started the first draft of this article, I researched stuff about the Royal Family because I was intrigued by the youngest member’s adorable antics. The reason I fell down that rabbit hole was that I was researching osteoarthritis due to a flare-up of pain that woke me several hours sooner than my alarm was set to go. YouTube has more rabbit trails than the Queen has Corgis. (The suggested videos are cleverly devised to distract.)

My strength is that once I’m onto a project I can stay at it for hours. I can easily ignore hunger pains, nature calls, and whoever walks into my writing room.    

Each writer is also unique in how they determine what’s important in their writing journey. Most of my life choices are sifted through the sieve of quiet time and journaling. Writing out prayers helps me focus on what matters most. My prayers are prompted by what I’ve read in the Word each morning. God’s word is perfect for purifying motives. The why behind our writing matters. My why is to inspire faith that overrides fear. 

When I submit my fear to God, He gives me power, love, and serenity to overcome hard stuff. The wisdom and comfort given to me aren’t for hoarding, they’re for sharing. I share them through writing. Living in a state of submission to God’s will makes it easier to hear and heed His nudges. Sometimes a simple suggestion to take a break and go outside and enjoy some fresh air ends up being the source of a perfect prompt needed for a new project. 

Falling out of submission can also be a writing prompt—as was the case for a recent newsletter I sent out. Sometimes readers are more encouraged by how we rallied after a derailment then if we avoided sharing our weaknesses. I’m regularly thankful for the Apostle Paul’s humble and honest transparency.  We each have a thorn or two to contend with. 

The writing life, like the Christian walk, doesn’t just happen in allocated places either. We can worship God in a garden as deeply as we do in a church sanctuary. We can also compose sentences and plots outside the writing room: in the shower, in the woods, and at the dinner table when someone says something funny, poignant, or profound.

Being attentive to the words of God, others, and ourselves leads us to write deeply and bravely. Fearless writing that’s written from a place of vulnerability makes readers feel less alone. If we fear looking less in the eyes of others, our words will have less impact too. When we worry about our pride less, we’ll build others up more. In this age where there are so many words being published and launched into the world each day, the best reward is most likely the only recompense we’ll receive amid all the competition out there—the reward of having someone say, “Thank you, I needed that.”      

If we can tame distraction, harness what’s important, and heed God’s promptings often, we’ll be fruitful Kingdom writers for His glory. And others will be thankful for the words He wrote through us.

We’re never going to attain perfection on this side of heaven. But if we aim for it, our work will be better. And our readers will be better for it too. 

Now it’s time to share the God nudge I recently received during a worship service at church. He gently but clearly told me that He opened a door for my writing so that I would minister to His people. I was not to belittle nor neglect my calling. God reminded me I was to serve Him first. And the way He has for me to do so right now is through writing.  

For inspirational writers, to write is to serve.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 NIV

Bold writing blessings ~ Wendy Mac

P.S. I’m nosy-to-know what your greatest strength as a writer is? (Continuing to do what works is as important as discontinuing what doesn’t work.) 

Wendy L. Macdonald is an inspirational blogger and podcaster who loves to photograph nature on Vancouver Island. Her byline is: “My faith is not shallow because I’ve been rescued from the deep.” Her main website is where she enjoys interacting with readers.