Valuable Attention

Students and clients frequently complain about “not having time to write.” It’s odd phrasing in reality because it’s impossible to not have time. The only way to not have time is to be dead. What these writers mean, of course, is that they do not know how to focus their attention on writing instead of all the other things they believe they most focus their attention on. These other things require all their attention. There is none, or virtually none, left for writing. Yet even virtually none is more than none, so if you have found yourself complaining that you do not have enough time, the first question you must ask yourself is: Is it true that it is impossible to focus my attention on writing? If the answer is yes, then you’re done. You can no more focus your attention on writing than you could jump to the moon. But if the answer is no, if it is possible, then it is only a question of how long you will choose to focus your attention on writing.

And what is writing? Writing is asking the question, “What do I value most? What is most interesting to me and me alone?” It is not asking the question, “How can I survive in this world? How can I not die?” Nor is it asking the question, “How can I please this other person?” No, it is only focusing your attention on the question, “What do I value most and how can I express it?”

Is that question worthy of your attention? Can you think of anything more worthy of your attention? I cannot, though I frequently allow my attention to drift elsewhere, to other people and what I believe they want. Fortunately, all anyone actually wants is to know and express their full value. In this way, the more I express my value, the more valuable I become to others, for in the sharing, author and reader alike are reminded of what we are meant to do.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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