Four Blind Spots I Uncovered While Writing My First Book

About a year ago I felt God stirring something inside of me.  I wasn’t quite sure about the specifics, so I decided to unpack some of my thoughts with my friend and mentor Fil Anderson. 

The conversation soon led to writing and Fil, being an accomplished author, provided great counsel.  24 hours later God began to stir some ideas for a book and the rest is history.  Fil agreed to co-author the book with me and this past year has been a blast! 

But you can’t write a book about Blind Spots and not uncover some along the way.  I thought I would share 4 things that I discovered while writing over this past year. 

1)  FOCUS IS KEY

As I get older, I’ve noticed that focus is key.  But it was never more important than over this past year. 

My writing took place while maintaining my full-time job and full-time privilege of being a husband and father to 4 children.  Needless to say, I couldn’t carve out days to write while sitting and drinking coffee in a quiet little mountain cabin.  In fact, I don’t even drink coffee!  So grabbing small bits of time was critical for those minutes to be productive. I had to be laser focused. 

I realized that focus is something you have to work at.  You have to find practices that work for you and if you take it for granted…well you lose your focus.  Did I tell you about the time….oops…see what I mean?

2)  1-2 HOURS IS ENOUGH

When I did find a free day to write, I was excited about having an entire day to sit with my computer and pour over words.  But many times I found myself discouraged at the end of the day feeling like I was less than productive.  I discovered that a 1-2 hour block of focused writing is about all I can expect.  After 1-2 hours, the quality of writing diminishes and the distractions become more difficult. 

I was encouraged when I listened to a Story Brand podcast by Donald Miller.  He was interviewing Claire Diaz Ortiz who is an accomplished author and speaker but also one of the early employees of Twitter. 

Miller touts Ortiz as one of the most productive people he knows.  Ortiz states that you have to look at your day in blocks of time, and about 1-2 hours is the most you can expect of non-stop focus without taking a break.  So I tried it and learned that you CAN accomplish a bunch in 1-2 hour blocks…if you remove all the distractions.  Which leads me to my next point...

3)  TURN EVERYTHING OFF

I used to pride myself at being a great multi-tasker and to be honest; I’m pretty good at juggling multiple things.  But, what I didn’t realize was how much the starting and stopping affected my focus and productivity. 

Did I mention that focus is key! 

When I stopped to look at a text, e-mail or take a phone call, I didn’t realize the effort and additional time it took to get back on task.  When I turned all those notifications off for a 1-2 hour block, I was amazed at how much quality writing I accomplished. 

It takes several minutes to get in a zone of productivity, so every time you allow something to distract you, you tend to lose your momentum.  You have to ramp up again.  I estimate that a one-hour block of time with 4 quick interruptions from one of our devices will only produce about 30 minutes of focused, productive work. 

Did I mention that focus is key?

4)  JUST DO IT

I think Nike is right when they encouraged us to “Just Do It.”  In my writing I was tempted to pour over every word, wanting to make sure everything was perfect.  At the end of a writing session, I would find that I had written 10 words or less!  Ok... that’s an exaggeration….maybe 20!  So many times in life I believe we get bogged down thinking about what we want to do, more than actually doing it. 

In my writing, I found that it is critical to get words down and not worry about perfection.  There is always time to go back to edit and refine.  But… that can be a villain too.  You can edit and polish forever, and never complete anything. 

Since this was my first written post, I was tempted to carve out days to make sure it was perfect!  But that process started weeks ago, and finally today I decided to put it on paper…or my computer.  In fact, I am planning to post it in just a few minutes so forgive me for not spending the next 2-3 weeks editing these few words to make them perfect for your eyes.  I think you get the point. 

Did I mention that focus is key…