By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine
Writing a blog post for Suite T every other week doesn’t sound like a daunting task. At times, it can be difficult to be inspired to provide quality information that will benefit our readers. So this week began with me saying, “What to write...I’m late, I’m late for Thursday’s date.” If this conjures up images of the “White Rabbit” in Lewis Carroll's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, then you have the correct image of me this past Tuesday.
To solve this problem I turned to Facebook which believe it or not, has inspired many interesting blog posts in the past. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. I ran across author Ann Patchett’s PBS three-minute video titled “Retrain Your Shrinking Attention Span.” The #IMHO segment on PBS Newshour appeared on Mar 12, 2018. Just an FYI, #IMHO is the hashtag for “In My Humble Opinion.” Who knew?
In this video, Patchett rhetorically asks, “What’s the secret to writing novels? Or baking a perfect cake?” At this link take 3 minutes, yes, you’ve got three minutes to immediately help you become more focused on any task at hand. Of course, you could be like my friend who read my rough draft of this blog post and said she’d “have to watch it in 1 1/2 minute installments. That's my attention span.” She cracks me up but makes a valid point. Our 24/7 notifications of breaking events fuels our brains' difficulty in focusing on the task at hand. Can you identify?
For the record, I’m not a scratch baker. I lean towards cake mixes with add-ins to make a cake my own creation. Much like, Food Network star and author, Sandra Lee. Her recipes primarily use a base of ready made grocery items that she tweaks in her show aptly named, Semi-Homemade. Lee always makes a signature cocktail to compliment every shows unique recipes and tablescapes. Should I create a signature cocktail to aid in my writing? Some authors do, I’ve heard. See, I just jumped down another rabbit hole because Ann Patchett talked about making a cake from scratch. I also googled Food Network for the links to Sandra Lee’s show and googled Amazon for a link to Lee’s and Patchett’s books in case our blog readers are curious. Time to FOCUS, again.
I thought someone probably developed acronyms for the word FOCUS. Googled it and there it was:
Shift back to Ann Patchett, an international bestselling author. She has seven successful novels and three nonfiction books. She contributes essays and critiques to various newspapers and journals. Last but certainly not least, she owns a bookstore in her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. She has this focus thing down. So I’ve decided to give “retraining my attention span” a whirl. My plan is to try to focus and be fully present when presented with a particular task. I will turn off my phone with all those instant notifications and resist multitasking even when I am not. Maybe one day, I will make a scratch cake or a “writing blog” cocktail but first I’m scheduling this blog post for all to enjoy in cyber land. See I CAN focus and #IMHO so can You.
Are you willing to join me and Ann Patchett and give “retraining your attention span” so you can write and FOCUS a try?