Shaun Levin

Focus

In Writing on August 30, 2020 at 4:28 pm

The hardest thing you will ever have to do as a writer is focus (he says you, but really what he means is I), to stick with it, to turn up. There are infinite distractions, but the biggest is the resistance to turning up, staring into space, sitting on the sofa and scrolling through Facebook, for example, Instagram, for example, Twitter. All the things one can scroll though, speeding up time, procrastinating, and there is the scrolling through things you should be doing, to go or not to go for a run, a walk, a swim, to the gym, for a massage, maybe it’s time for a massage, or a café, wash the dishes, the dishes can wait, everything can wait.

Really, there is nothing more wonderful than showing up, focusing, turning up on the page, no matter what happens, no matter what you land up with, for to make words is to make noise, or more precisely, to not not-make words. The aim is to not not-make words, because that is silence and the aim is to not be silent. To write is to not-be-silent and even if we are silent in the world, to be not-silent on the page somehow alleviates the anxiety of not being not-silent in the world. The more you put on the page, the less there is to carry. See: All that in less than 7 minutes.

Just think what might happen in 20.

Don’t stress me out.

Every time you focus, you add to your body of work. Every time you focus on one thing, you make it easier to focus on another, you write your way into being a writer. It’s that simple. A page + your fingers + a pen ( = a pencil) + time + a chair. That’s what writing =s

The shift from not doing to doing. Remember that (he tells himself): writing happens when you shift from not doing to doing.

Why the resistance? There’s so much to do. It’s far. I don’t want to set out because I’ll never reach the end. It’s deep. I might drown. It’s lonely. But think how much more lonely you’ll be without it. Writing is good company. Writing says: I’ll always be here. Writing says: I’ll always have something to say. Writing says: I’ll be interesting, I promise, and when I’m not, the more you talk to me, the more interesting I’ll become. I promise. Writing says: Stick with me. Writing says: I’ll be worth it.

Don’t count the minutes or the words. Follow the line. Follow the sentence and the acrobatics of your imagination. I mean, look at some of the cool things you’ve done in the last few minutes. Keep somersaulting, doing cartwheels and back flips. Flic-flacs we used to call them. Remember that first flic-flac. And yesterday, that kid when you were crossing the road, going from Plaza de Toros onto Calle de Alcalá and him and his friend crossing towards you and he just bounced up into the air and did a somersault, his friend watching from behind, and you could feel your eyebrows lift, your eyes opening wider, and wasn’t that magic to witness that: a kid propelling himself up into the air and doing a somersault, landing and continuing to cross the zebra crossing on a Saturday afternoon.

The bullring is closed now and in the evenings you’ve been walking around it while listening to music on your ear pods. So much is closed now, not just for the summer holidays, but because of the pandemic, and too many places have fallen silent, too many people. In the face of all that, keep turning up. Focus.

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