Deep Work

Writing a novel takes intense focus. How do we focus on such a task when there is so much noise around us? I sought the answer to this question in 2018 through my interview series with other writers. One concept I wanted to explore further was Deep Work, an idea originating from writer and professor Cal Newport. I’ve been a student of Deep Work for five years, modifying the approach to focused, meaningful work as my career, writing life and personal life change. I thought it would be impactful to share what I’ve learned these past five years. Finding Time It’s not so much about finding time and increasing productivity, rather honing focus during the time available. We sometimes find that we only have 20 minutes, perhaps less. Even if we only have a few free moments to write one or two sentences, we’ve still made progress. Finding Space We can find focus in many places if we are open to seeing the world differently. Some may disagree, however I find airplanes are a great space for focus and Deep Work. No one can call or text. There’s no instant access to email. We’re forced to sit in one place for several hours. There’s no choice but to focus on work and writing. A Quiet Mind We don’t always have to be doing or consuming. Letting our minds wander in boredom – especially during this pandemic – allows new ideas to come to fruition. For those interested in finding a[…] [Keep Reading]

Starting a Novel

I wrote previously about my 2020 writing goals and my commitment to finishing the fourth draft of my science fiction novel in 2020. As part of that commitment, I intend to blog every two weeks about what I’m learning from the writing process. In this post, I intend to address my struggles with completing the first few chapters. There’s a lot of material required in the first chapter of a novel, and the pressure to fit it all in is causing me to over-analyze and continuously outline instead of write. However, this constant analyzing is causing me to grow anxious because I’m not truly writing. Many writers I previously interviewed discuss the concepts of beginning a novel at length. The first sentence is essential in capturing the reader’s attention. An agent will decide if they will read on based upon the first paragraph. The main characters need to be introduced on the first page. The story world should be clear by the end of the first chapter. Conflict should be established to create forward progression of the story. I find it overwhelming. Without planning and outlining the entire novel before writing, how can I pack all that material into the first few pages? I just want to write! In a recent blog post, Cal Newport discussed how Charles Dickens had “A Christmas Carol” planned out in its entirety prior to writing the book. That’s an impressive feat. While I’ve had the novel’s story world in my head for several years now, I’m[…] [Keep Reading]