13 Steps To Narrowing Your Focus by Steph Beth Nickel

With the end of the year fast approaching—Can you believe it?—it’s time to narrow my focus. Below is some advice I’m giving myself.


  1. “Hello, my name is Stephanie and I am a Facebook addict.” I must, must, must severely limit my time on this and other social networks.


  1. I should complete each day’s tasks in order of importance. Too often I don’t expend the most energy on the tasks I would say have the highest priority—thereby, revealing my true priorities. Ouch!


  1. Because I’m eclectically interested, it’s easy to get distracted by other items on my To Do list. As much as possible, I must stick with one project until it’s complete, at least set a timer and work until it goes off.


  1. I must minimize distractions: close Internet windows, clear off my desk, refuse to walk away until the task is done or the timer goes off.


  1. Listening to upbeat, motivating music—without lyrics—keeps me motoring along. It helps me focus on the task at hand.


  1. I keep a pen and notebook handy to record what I need to do later. That way I won’t forget to do it, but I won’t be tempted to switch gears and do it when it crosses my mind.


  1. I will write or get busy editing in a more disciplined way. I won’t simply wait for inspiration to hit me upside the head.


  1. I am considering devoting each day to one or two projects rather than flitting from one thing to the next to the next.


  1. I will systematically get things done that have been on my Procrastination List for far too long.


  1. I will stop adding more writing how-to books to my Kindle and will actually start reading the dozens of physical and ebooks I already have.


  1. I will practice the art of being still and quiet. I don’t always have to be doing something—mentally or physically. This time does not, however, include watching TV, something I can waste far too many hours on.


  1. I must also exercise regularly. “I don’t wanna” followed by “do it anyway” is soon followed by “hey, why don’t I do that every day?”


  1. I think it would be best to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. This will eliminate the temptation to oversleep when I’m feeling bummed and help me develop a regular routine.


What steps would you find helpful? Any other suggestions?


Steph Beth Nickel

Midweek #ROW80 Check-In

I know, I know.  We’re hardly begun, and I’m sure we’re still picking up new folks.  Welcome!  If you haven’t posted your goals yet, write ’em up and add your post link to the linky below.   If you’re started, then give a progress report!

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Final Round 3 Check-In

Y’all have until tomorrow, but because I’ve conditioned you to check-in on Wednesdays, I’m throwing this on up here.  Take a look a the goals you set for yourself this round.  How did you do?  Too ambitious?  Too reserved?  Did you rock it?  Did you bite off more than you could chew?  However it turned out, you got more done than if you hadn’t taken on the challenge at all!  So give yourself and your fellow ROWers a pat on the back and a good cheer.  And be sure to be back here October 5th for the start of ROUND 4!

If you want to be a sponsor for Round 4, check out the FAQs and dash me an email at kaitnolanwriter (at) gmail.com.

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An Imp Named Whimsy by Alberta Ross

All of us here are motivated to create. We have pens, keyboards and ideas. Primed and ready to go. Like love and hate walk side by side and overlap creativity also appears to have an affinity with destruction. We are hardwired to fear the worst, it is how we stayed alive way back when. It would be a life saver then, nowadays it often just becomes a negativity which serves no great purpose in our well ordered lives, except to cause a chaos and confusion we cannot do anything about, lacking the possibilities of flight or fight. We hear it time and time again,


stress, stressing, stressed.


It saps our energy this stress, dulls our ambitions and turns our lives into a constant battle with LIFE.


It doesn’t need to be so. We have an endless capacity for enjoyment and laughter. We are superb puzzle solvers, how else have we managed to spread through the tropical heat and the arctic freezes. We also have hardwired in our genetic makeup a secret weapon which we can use to aid our creativity. A gene which enabled those living in hostile terrains to see a face of a lion, or an enemy neighbour in the thick foliage of the bush around. Which enables us still to see animals in the clouds, faces in the cracks of un-repaired walls, delighting children and making adults smile and then to chastise themselves for the foolishness, after all. . .


That is imagination born from self survival. This imagining of something that doesn’t really exist led to stories and those who had a lot of imagination became story tellers. Imagination is good, apart from storytelling it will help us through the dark days if we can imagine something better, brighter, more exciting, we can struggle on, keeping our ambitions polished.


Imagination though is not all, not really enough. There is another part of the brain which is often confined and caged. It lives in the very primitive recesses of the grey matter, a creature of unstructured, unordered life. It needs space to operate, space we often forget to give it, so tied up are we in living our well ordered lives. It needs experiences of all variety, we often deny it this nourishment in our endless hours at our jobs/keyboards/shovels/whatever. It needs a certain peace and quiet which it struggles to find in this 24/7 noisy world we have created.


Mine is an ‘imp’, not in the devils spawn meaning of the world, more in the way of a mischievous child.


An imp called whimsy.


We all have an imp. Hidden in the deep recesses. It is untamed and un-tamable. It is a collector of everything, a hoarder , a tinkerer. It delights in deconstruction and reconstruction. Delights in breaking and peering.It is a thief and an unrepentant borrower. A connoisseur of fineness and beauty and a trash-ridden drop out. Crazily out of control and endlessly patient and creative. A spoilt child.


What whimsy delights in is an quiet mind, a relaxed mind, a half sleeping mind. Then it has time to wander through all the pockets of information in our minds. My imp loves, in particular, those half dozed moments between sleep and wakefulness when a radio, some music plays softly, and muted half heard voices, murmur unheard in the background. Whimsy hears, it picks up a phrase or two, an uttering which might take its fancy for no apparent reason, will grab hold and examine, toss from side to side. It plays, maybe shares with other parts of the mind. It mixes in it’s box of random thoughts, imbues it with a magic of it’s own and then one day kicks it back into the enclosure which is our every day mind.


Whimsy works best in the unguarded moments, lazing, dozing, gardening, listening to music, anything which has the analytical ordered part of the mind switched of. It doesn’t work well under stress, doesn’t work well in the darkness of the soul, unless one wishes to create the dark and doleful. It flourishes in relaxation, in the harmony of self and imagination, between everyday reality and creativity.


It will not respond to orders or demands, whimsy is a creature of no fixed abode. Some days it is wandering where our scent file is kept, another time rifling through our word file. It dips into vision files, some days it will watch the landscapes of the world, another spend whole blocks of time watching sunlight through a damselfly wing. Nothing to small or great to grab it’s interests.


Whimsy makes nonsense out of sense and sense out of nonsense.


Whimsy can take dross and meld it into something beautiful.


Whimsy is careless and generous. When it has finished trying something out for size, tweaked it, pulled it inside out and fitted it to another unconnected jewel and thrown it into it’s box of treasures to dash out of hiding and catch another nugget of cement or gold or silver; then imagination is allowed to poke around the treasure trove, articulation is given free access.


Without whimsy, imagination is only the ability to imagine a different set of circumstances, without whimsy, articulation is merely the ability to utter everyday occurrences.


The secret to a strong and healthy imp, whatever you care to call it, is to allow relaxation in, to banish stress, to experience life in as many ways as possible. To allow time for the fermentation of all the oddities whimsy collects. To be social, adventurous, open to the new and unexpected. Enjoy the faces in the clouds and woodwork, delight in children’s worlds (so full of whimsy) accept that, sometimes, one’s ambitions need time to mature, accept that everything in ‘Life’ adds to the treasure trove.


And sometimes we should throw away the man made constructs such as time, deadlines, dates and numbers. Learn to relax and allow our minds to wander freely, digress from the normal.


It is a small capricious creature, whimsy, but can deliver amazing treasures for the creative mind.


Alberta Ross

Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

There WAS A BREEZE THIS WEEK.  Like, a legitimate, taste of autumn on the air, not drowning in humidity BREEZE.  GLORIOUS.  I confess, I’m having to fight to stick to my goals in lieu of going to take a nap in my backyard hammock.  But I SHALL PREVAIL (and so shall you) because this is the last push. WRITE WRITE WRITE!

If you want to be a sponsor for Round 4, check out the FAQs and dash me an email at kaitnolanwriter (at) gmail.com.

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