Following on from my ‘No man’ post about learning to say no, I’ve discovered or perhaps learned, that there is a another form of distraction and ultimately stress and guilt.
As writers in this new world we see it everywhere. Authors (like myself) are experimenting with publishing by coordinating anthologies and other collaborative projects; small presses are popping up each day; communities are gathering together resources and skills; traditional publishing is trying to innovate and reach authors in new ways (albeit slowly). This creates a multitude of opportunity.
A shit-ton of shiny to distract us.
So, you’re trying to write your novel or a short story for a competition/anthology, and you see something else pop up. It’s also shiny and lovely and you ache to be involved. You have other work you need to do. But you wonder if you can do both. Then another pops along and that too is wondrous; this time it’s run by your friends and you feel obligated. This seemingly never-ending treadmill of opportunity can cause a lot of stress and burden. Unless you stay focused, which for many of us isn’t so easy to do.
Stress or Guilt, both suck monkey balls.
You’ve been strong and you decide to say no. You decide that you must remain focussed. But in the back of your mind (Or mine, clearly I’m talking about my own pathetic mental abilities), you feel guilty that you can’t take part. You’re letting your friends down. Or if there’s no guilt, there’s stress because you worry that you’re missing out on a great opportunity: what if you won that competition, or you got published in that world renown journal/anthology? So you agonise, you try to decide whether you can or can’t do it. It blows. You lose focus on your current project and your (my) mind is a sponge of negative emotions.
More than just saying No.
Saying no is just the first stage. The next stage is to learn to ignore opportunity. To not seek it out. Unless you are free to take advantage of it, because the angst of piling on too much work, and the guilt of saying no can be a real bitch. So put those blinkers on. Make definitive goals and focus focus focus.
Of course, this is easier said than done, but it’s something I’m going to put more effort into. My own projects have to take precedence over anything else, even if it means not taking part in something that could potentially be brilliant. For without focus, we achieve diddly squat.