Keeping Your Focus: Shiny Object Syndrome

When there is so much you can (and should) be doing as an indie author, it’s difficult to keep your focus. Writing should come first, though sometimes it doesn’t, and when you let other things get in the way you can suddenly look up and see that several days have passed and you haven’t written a single thing. And by other things I don’t mean laundry or family activities. I mean making graphics for your Facebook ads, searching for keywords and making ads on Amazon, watching craft videos on YouTube and an assortment of other things that are important to your business but can take time away from your writing.

Another issue that plagues writers is the shiny object syndrome. Writing is hard, and it’s tempting to chuck a current project and start something new. Beginnings for some are a lot easier than finding your way through the murky middle of a book or you finished a project and don’t care to edit it because you ignored a couple of major problems you didn’t, and still don’t, know how to fix.

The problem is though that if you let your shiny object syndrome go on for too long, all you’ll have is a computer full of half finished projects and no clear idea of how to move forward.

Last year I realized a rather surprising cause of burnout–lack of progress, lack of moving forward and/or lack of success. When you feel like a hamster on a wheel, it’s no wonder you can get tired quickly.

So what can you do to start moving forward?

  1. Figure out your plan. If you’re writing to build an audience you need to publish consistently (in all ways, I’m learning, genre as well as time-wise) even if that’s a book a year. If you’re dabbling, maybe you don’t care as much about completing a project, but even dabblers and hobbyists need to complete projects now and then. Finishing something gives everyone a sense of purpose and satisfaction, and publishing on Amazon, your blog, or a place like Wattpad feeds our need to have readers read our work and supplies the feedback we crave.
  2. Make a list. What are all the projects you have going right now? What projects do you have simmering in the back of your mind? Make a list of the projects that are sitting on your computer in various stages of completion, then make a list of what you’d like to write in the future. Many authors have a file full of ideas to draw from when they are ready to start a new project. You won’t feel like you’re missing out on a great idea–you can always come back to it once your plate is clear.
  3. What is your closest project to completion? If you choose a project that’s almost done, finishing it will be that much faster. Then you can let a beta reader read it, workshop it with a critique partner, or post it on your blog.
  4. Create a cover for it. These days it doesn’t matter if it’s just an extra epilogue for a newsletter sign up, or a short story, everything needs a cover these days, and you can find motivation and inspiration to finish that project if you create a cover for it with the idea that one day soon you’ll publish it. Canva makes it easy to look at templates and experiment with font and font placement. Just be careful that you don’t spend too much time doing that. A project that will never get done doesn’t need a cover.

I have a lot of projects on my computer, almost 9 books in various stages of edits. I’ll get them done, but like in my blog post musing about publishing and launch plans, I need to figure some things out. I need to publish something soon, so I can find the high again. There is nothing, NOTHING, like holding the proof of your paperback book in your hands. I’m going to try to do a better job of putting my work out there on social media. Never been afraid to blow your own horn. Not many will do it for you!

I was trolling Twitter while I took a break writing this post, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Focusing your energy and your attention is hard–there is so much outside stimulation vying for it–but it will be worth it in the end when you can check off items one by one on your list.

That is a great feeling to propel you to finish even more things!

Good luck!

Want to read more about shiny object syndrome? Check these out!

Do You Have ‘Shiny Object’ Syndrome? What It Is and How to Beat It

5 Ways to Resist Bright Shiny Object Syndrome and Finish What You Start