“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Samuel Johnson
“Life begets life. Energy creates energy.” Sarah Bernhardt
So true! Just this week I was immersed in an intense project with a clear deadline. I launched on Monday and wrapped it up by Saturday. It was demanding to dedicate all my time and energy to accomplishing the task at hand, but it reminded me how energizing and enlivening it can be to barrel through to a short-term goal. Here are a few takeaways I’m going to apply to my writing and you may find helpful for yours:
Deadlines are mobilizing: I know, I know. Deadlines are anxiety provokers for many people, but I’ve never found this to be true for me. Having a deadline gives me a buzz, it forces me to focus, it actually energizes me. There’s a fine line between anxiety and excitement – if you can shift from one to the other, you release a lot of productive creative juice. Takeaway: Deadlines are a useful tool, let’s exploit them!
Getting started gets you started: To rev my engine on this particular project, I picked a logical starting point and then worked my way to the end point. Sounds simple and it is. It’s also powerful. When you pick a clear starting point, you signal to yourself that you’re ready for action and when you get off the starting line, you feel jazzed and juiced. Takeaway: Pick a starting point that makes sense – and start!
Concentration begets concentration: “Exclusive attention on one object” – my trusty Century Dictionary says it all. The concentration loop is real: Turn all your attention to getting the job at hand done and you’ll release enormous amounts of latent energy. More good news here: The more you focus, the more you can focus. Takeaway: As a mentor one told me: “Success isn’t hocus-pocus, it’s focus, focus.”
Concentration creates creativity: As I kept my attention on the job at hand in high gear from day to day over a week, I found that ideas for how to do a better job or how to tackle problems that cropped up simply emerged organically. When you are one-pointed, when you bring all your resources to bear on a task, you release lots of energy and you also release fresh ideas. Takeaway: Intention frees ingenuity.
Joy flows from finishing: At the end of the week as I wrapped my project up, a great sense of satisfaction washed over me. It was just very fulfilling to know that I hadn’t let myself get distracted or disouraged by the work before me. I simply tackled it with a will. Takeaway: When will and work are in harmony, magic happens.
Onward with velocity! Let’s focus, focus – and all write on!