Jodi Lea Stewart

Loving and Writing About the Southwest and the South

(Un) Focus, won’t you?

Sometimes you need to  un-focus in order to focus.
Sometimes you need to un-focus in order to focus.

At times, my writing focus is about as clear as swamp water.

Sometimes I inadvertently go on a writing sabbatical. Things get in the way. When the “match” goes out, it’s like getting a D.C. politician to tell the truth challenging to restart the flame. For example, recently:

There I sat.

Alone in my office.


Staring some more.

Searching for ideas.

Here’s what I came up with the first few hours

  • My computer screen is dirty.
  • Gravity is, at this very moment, tugging my face toward my knees.
  • Jazz, one of my two Standard poodles, will someday have lockjaw.
  • My jaw is killing me

    Why wasn’t I a twin?

  • What is the life cycle of a corn cob?

To put it mildly, a snaggley wad of barbed wire was more inspirational than anything I could conjure.

FOCUS! I commanded myself. But I couldn’t. So I rose from my desk and walked outside. I stared into tree branches, watched two screaming young children throw a temper tantrum, listened to cars on a busy road, and looked into the faces of everyone I passed.

I lounged in front of the TV like a lazy Queen of Slob. I went to the movies. I sighed. I made nachos. I cried. I laughed. This went on for about a week.

eyeglasses in the hand over blurred tree backgroundWhat happened after that?

Blogs happened. Multiple chapters in my current Work in Progress (novel) happened.

It proved what I already knew: sometimes we must “un-focus” in order to focus.

When water doesn’t flow, maybe the creek is dry. Go fill it up.

Know what I mean?



Just for fun . . .


This Big Country isn't big enough for unauthorized media borrowers.
This Big Country isn’t big enough for unauthorized media borrowers.






15 thoughts on “(Un) Focus, won’t you?

  1. You did much better than me, Jodi. I was trying to take a 3 week break from blogging and social media. Hasn’t happened. I’ve been able to cut back a little on social media but the blogging? Things have come at me from out of the blue (except the Authors Give Back series – that one’s scheduled out a couple of months in advance) and I felt I needed to take care of them.

    As for focus. I don’t have one exactly. I write about books, reading and writing because I love all those things. I also write about domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, co-parenting and other societal issues because I think those things are important. I tried doing certain days for things, but it didn’t work. So hopefully my readers will just put up with my differing topics written when they’re written. 🙂 I did finally come up with two constants, Authors Give Back on Tuesdays and my Mash-up of links on Sundays although that last one is on hiatus another couple of weeks.

    I’m glad you found your focus. Hopefully I’ll get there. 🙂

  2. I have been pondering this recently too. I LOVE the Hyatt analogy of blogging through ‘lenses’. I’m going to think on it some more and figure out what my lenses are. Is three the golden number?

    I figure if we’re trying to establish a ‘brand’ and a readership (not that I have anything available for people to read yet) we need to be focused on topics an audience can get their teeth into.

    I’m fairly sure one of my lenses is ‘fantasy’. I think another is ‘the creative life’ or ‘juggling two careers’…

    1. I really like the “juggling two careers” as one of your lenses, Ellen. I know I could benefit from your ideas on that. Whether we work outside the home or not, it seems we are all juggling more than we can handle. You’re solidifying!

  3. My blog focus is fairly narrow. On Fridays, I post about the craft of writing. A few months ago, I added occasional Wednesday posts about the publishing business, and I also occasionally host guests on Wednesdays, but I require them to talk about the craft of writing or the publishing business.

    Another good question is, “What do you hope to achieve?” I don’t expect I’m selling my children’s books or romantic suspense novels on my blog, even though I do talk about them in context. However, I hope I’m promoting my writing craft book, Advanced Plotting, as well as my critique services. I know people have attended one of my workshops, followed my blog for six months or so, and then hired me to do a manuscript critique. The blog helps them keeps me in mind as a possible critiquer.

    1. Chris, you are the quintessential master planner! With your wide range of exposure as the Regional Adviser/New Mexico for SCBWI, and your myriad of critique services plus mentoring, you seem perfectly set up to build your platform with those particular bricks. The fact that you are also an awesome fiction writer is the bonus! People who trust your business side will naturally want to experience your creative side as well. Blogging also seems easier for non-fiction writers with a particular scope of interest. Michael Hyatt, for instance, builds his platform on leadership, social media and publishing. For the rest of us, the challenge looms large to find that target audience who will enjoy our blog writing, feel as though they are getting to know us through that…and want to buy our books. Thanks for visiting!

  4. Great to see you back, Jodi, and some really good food for thought on blogging. I’ve been really slow in mine, too. Not that I don’t have ideas for blogs – I’ve got lots of those but getting them from my brain and “on paper” is something else again. I don’t have anything published to focus on but if I did it would probably be about my experiences as a Park Ranger. Another would probably be family history. The rest would probably go under the category of “whatever pops into my mind.”

    1. Park ranger experiences…family history…sounds great! The “whatever pops into your mind” could be your version of a mash-up, right? Helen, you’re way down the road, girl!

  5. Welcome Back! I would have chosen those three categories as your focus if you’d asked me before you wrote this. I may have added food to it also but so far that has been part of the Southwest focus, hasn’t it?

    Focus feels good. I’m there for now. The realities of modern living is my focus. I wondered if that was too broad but I don’t think so. My areas of concentration: Distractions, Disruptions, Dailiness, and Dreams.

    Looking forward to reading more from you, both on the blog and with Silki, #2.

    1. Shoot, Sara…you could have told me what my lenses were, and I would have gone dancing at Weaver Rock with the fire fairies yesterday instead of writing a blog! ;D And you’re right about the food thing. Though I don’t cook very much now (gave it up for novel writing and social media), I used to cook constantly. Still do if company’s comin’ and on holidays! My mom is an awesome southern cook, and literally (no lie) makes the best homemade pie crust in the country. Have wonderful recipes from the South and the Southwest, lots of family cooks. More on the way…

      BTW, I love your blogs! They’re so honest and full of life. You write from the heart, and that’s the name of the game.

  6. I’ll echo everyone’s sentiments and say ‘Welcome Back!’ Your three lenses sound perfect for you. As for my three lenses, I think I have three but they aren’t related to one another and I’ve wondered if my blog is too scattered that way. Travel, the “Letters” series, and then a random topic of the week, which sometimes includes posts about writing. The unrelated topic are probably keeping me from building a bigger readership but it’s all I’ve got for right now.

    1. Tami, your letters to and from Benedict Cumberbatch are genius! You suck me in from the first line, and don’t let go of me until the last. You know I faithfully make sure he sees these letters, don’t you? He’d better appreciate you or all the WANA-gang will be searching him out for revenge. Your travel blogs give me wanderlust of the best kind. I’m still smarting over that cold shoulder you received in Rome. Man, I thought it was the city of love…or is that just the movies?

  7. Yes, yes, but it’s marvelous to have you back, Jodi. I agree with everyone who made it over here before me, that your three lenses are pretty much custom made for you. My summer doings mimic your’s in that I’ve been blogging sporadically in an attempt to complete edits on Novel #2. As thrilling as it was to get my book priorities wrapped-up with a Big Bow, it makes it harder now to refocus on freshening up my blog and getting back into the groove. Not to mention that my lens is in need of a polish–I can barely see a thing!

    1. Thanks, Barbara, and congratulations!! What a tremendous accomplishment to finish the writing and edits for your second novel, yet…there’s that nagging little pain in the back of the neck that says, What about me? I’m your blog and you don’t love me anymore, right? Think we’ll ever be free? *sending you a little bottle of Windex for that scope on the wings of a dove. Watch for it!*

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