Shut The World Away


I’ve been trying to shut the world away for a minute and write.

It’s not easy, of course. Distractions abound, habits ingrained so deeply, the mind constantly drifts away from the task at hand, wondering about social media, email.

I was just reading someplace that Maya Angelou never wrote at home. She had a beautiful house, serene garden, plenty of room, but she preferred to go someplace quiet where she’d be difficult to reach.

No wonder her writing sang, and she produced a plethora of works.

Staying focused is a struggle.

But this discipline is non-negotiable for writers. It’s essential for anyone serious about completing work. It doesn’t matter if we have to trick ourselves into focusing — like Maya Angelou did, to a degree. If we’re going to complete works that matter, we have to stop chasing shiny objects and do the work.

Half-finished paintings don’t make it into museums.

Half-drawn blueprints don’t make for well-constructed buildings (or any buildings).

Half-finished songs are soon forgotten.

And half-finished manuscripts don’t make for much of a story.

Paraphrasing from an article I’ve read some time back above, but everything resonates. 

So, absence is presence of mind elsewhere — in the story slowly coming together. Sometimes, the only way to focus is to turn off the noise, shut the proverbial door. Live in a different world where the story lives.

 As The Seekers sang in A World of Our Own:

Close the doors, light the lights/We’re stayin’ home tonight/Far away from the bustle and the bright city lights/Let them all fade away/And we’ll live in a world of our own.

~ When life and worldly forces pull you in so many different directions, how do you stay focused?

Image courtesy:


12 responses to “Shut The World Away

  1. It’s difficult to find the time to write with everyday life and family, let alone marketing and promoting, or researching and submitting, taking your time. So, yes, sometimes we just need to put all that aside and WRITE!

    • True, Linda, something has to give. Family, of course, takes priority, but when it comes to a choice between the rest, we have to fight the forces. :)
      Thank you for stopping by.

  2. It’s so great when I put the world and distractions aside and just write – but o my goodness such a lot to catch up with, always. Always running and trying to catch my tail. I put classical music on in my study when writing, it helps me get into the zone a bit .. and of course always notepaper on hand if a memory comes to mind to not forget to buy milk, loo paper those sorts of mundane things …:)

  3. Funny… I was talking with someone earlier today precisely about the difficulty in getting manuscripts — even short stories — wrapped up. The plot can be thickened so easily… but the denouement gets me every time. And that discipline, that perseverance, whatever you call the quality that makes one stick with this mess of threads and side plots and ever more fascinating characters and actually *get them to work together*… That’s what I most admire of my favorite authors. (And what I most lack in myself.)
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

    • Discipline is huge indeed, Guilie. And for some reason hard to implement, especially in the environment we live in with all the *noise*. For me, it kicks in when I reach a certain point in the story, when I am completely emerged, and the various threads won’t give me peace until they are organized in some manner. But, yeah, not easy getting there. :) Thank you for visiting and the lovely comments.

  4. It’s really hard, harder than I’d like to admit, but it’s the hardness that tells me how much it is needed for the exercise in restraint as much as for the isolation to accomplish a task. I am trying not to view everything from fear, esp. new tasks, but from wonder and enjoyment, including the overwhelmed feelings I get when I need to be alone to write or whatever, but other things distract. It’s working…sort of.


  5. First, I’m terrible at putting the world away, especially after my weekend. Also, I don’t have the goals you do. It truly would be wonderful to sit down and brainstorm with someone about my thoughts. Then I would have to be focused! But figuring out what I WANT is the first issue. You are half-way home and you KNOW what you want to do! Plus, you are a fabulous writer! Oh… I’m passing your book around my book group. We’ll see what they have to say! ;-)

  6. Ah yes, that’s the problem, isn’t it? Focus. Finding the quiet. I think sometimes my brain just isn’t going to go there, and I have to be okay with that. Because sometimes I have the time and the patience, and I can let myself go with the story.

  7. Second blog post I’ve read in the last couple of days quoting Maya Angelou. That woman was so wise. She came to Glasgow, ooh maybe early 90s, a long time ago anyway, and I have never spent a more inspiring evening. You’ve also hit on another of my cultural reference points. I loved the Seekers when I was growing up – they came to Glasgow just last year and I can report that Judith Durham’s voice is as lovely as ever, even though she had been very seriously ill not long ago. Good luck finding your quiet place!


    I am running 4 hours late, early today, with reasons all-of-the above! This post confronted not only a major problem for many of us, but time also begged for you to give this insight your loving attention. I am very much attracted to this post, and first thing in my head is that this is of “Hall of Fame” quality. I would love to have this in a picture frame, and on a wall with soft natural light reflecting your wisdom outward like a beacon.

  9. Almost all of my work involves nonfiction, which means lots of research. I try to keep up by with an ever-changing sea of science, but my notes soon take over the couch, overflow onto the floor and eventually get lost down some endless, timeless stream. Nothing is ever finished. When I think a book is complete, it becomes a mere prelude to another book.

    Yes, there are the usual distractions of everyday life, but old age has graced me with more and more immobility, so I have certain advantages: a little less “life” to deal with, time to think, time to learn and possibly re-think, and eventually time to write.

    I will probably never be listed among the great authors of our time, but I hope that someday, someone will find my work, read it, and discover that I didn’t have to run away from the world to focus on, and answer, some of life’s biggest questions…and that, unknowingly, my whole life was a book in the making, while I was left to play with ideas and dreams…and even at being a writer.

I welcome your thoughts.

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