When We Can’t Focus

green and orange leaves during fall in the mountains

When was the last time you looked at the stars? Were you able to focus on that moment?

S.A. Borders-Shoemaker hiking through a field in straw hat

Really. Take yourself back to that moment in your mind. What did you feel? Did that moment stay with you once it was done?

This weekend, I was able to steal away to the mountains and go camping with husband and dog in tow. No phone service, no noise. Just us and the stillness of the outdoors.

It’s easy to forget just how brilliant the heavens above are to see. I gazed at the stars without garish street lamp lights. In fact, I saw them without light at all. Just them- pure, unadulterated pearls strung across the night sky. Even the color of nightfall was deeper, an ink for imaginative minds.

It’s remarkable to be able to see without obstruction.

I often notice how my frustration affects my writing. Like a distorted camera lens, my thoughts become warped. I can’t quite focus. What I write is never quite right in my mind. The internal compass of my mind starts to lose course.

And when these moments arise, I take a break. Unplug. Set aside the work and reset by either switching projects or just pause and engage in some other, more relaxing activity. Our camping trip helped both my husband and me release these tensions.

When we lose clarity, our literary eyes get blurry.

Overwhelm and frustration are common parts of our lives. Only they should never be our guides, merely opportunities to rediscover ourselves and think in new ways. When I say, “literary eyes,” what I’m talking about is the way we look at the writing process itself. We shouldn’t stay in the “can’t focus” state of mind.

Before you get lost in the fancy footwork of the final stages of a draft, be sure to practice a reset routine that works for you. Does a dance party get your creative flow back in line? Then it’s the right reset for you. Imitating bird calls help you remember why you do what you do? Go for it.

What’s your reset strategy? Let’s see who has the most creative way of fixing their literary gaze.

In Courage & Care,


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