Monday, August 1, 2011

Law 8: Devotion and Focus

Making Monday

In a secular guide to meditation, referenced in a recent article about dealing with the ever-growing number of enticing streams of information that insinuate themselves in our lives, I noted with interest that the key to the technique for enjoying greater serenity is focus. We can produce calm by shutting down all other distractions and holding a single, tranquil image in our minds.

In our contemporary world, which seems well characterized by the observation that attention is the new currency, it's no accident that everything around us is carefully designed to distract us from whatever else we were doing. It's worse than the proverbial kid in the candy store: we exist like bees in a conceptual garden where the flowers are locked in a vicious struggle to attract us.

The Latin roots in the word advertise, (ad and vertere) literally mean, "to turn away"--as in, turn your attention away from what you were doing to the message the advertiser wants you to hear.

The eighth Law of Making is, "The True Maker's Devotion Never Wavers."

Devotion is a concept we generally hear only in rarefied contexts such romance or duty. Which is unfortunate because there are many other contexts where a practical, down-to-earth sense of the word would be immensely helpful. For example, enough devotion to a person or event to be fully present by turning off your smart phone.

The devotion of the makers begins at the practical level of focus. It's impossible to conceive of, much less carry out anything but a trivial project without focus. If you can write 500 considered words an hour, you'll need 150 hours to write one draft of a 75,000 word novel. You'll never emerge from the other end of all those hours with something coherent if you can't focus. (In fact, you'll probably never emerge with a completed draft because you'll get distracted long before the end.)

In a completely natural way, the practical devotion of true makers is like meditation in that you must devote your attention to that thing you're making in order to make any meaningful progress.

* Considered words: some minor revision or rephrasing, not simply typing flat-out.


Image: Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net