Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Focus bludgeons you in the head...repeatedly...

They did this to us for work training. Well, not the bludgeoning bit, but they made us take the following "Awareness Test."

Here, try it yourself. See how YOU do...

Did you watch it??


Well...I FAILED IT. And it made me think...

Here I am, Miss Try-to-Observe-Everything-and-It's-Shadow (um, HELLO!? I'm a WRITER) and OH MY GOSH! *hangs head*

Well, I very promptly came to this conclusion: Focus Kills.

I mean, not all focus is bad. Focus is how we reach our goals, accomplish things, beat Final Fantasy XIII....er, uh....

Without focus, our heroes wouldn't be heroes, dragons wouldn't be trained (TOOTHLESS!!), Harry wouldn't have destroyed all the horcruxes, and Sauron would be ruling the world.

But what about too much focus?

Apparently, it's something we are ALL prone to - including my MC, Daria Jones, and it almost got her killed - because not a single person in our class of 30 saw that moonwalking bear (so don't feel bad). It reminded me that, no matter I'm reaching for, appreciate the here and now and the people around me.

We love stories because we love the journey. We love to watch characters struggle and face obstacles and succeed when the entire universe and all its stars are against them. We don't go straight to the end to make sure Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star.

As the main character in your own story, it can be difficult enjoying the journey, especially when you're results driven (cough, cough). But if you don't, you'll miss all the important parts, the people and blessings along the way, and you may just end up bludgeoned in the head by a moonwalking bear. :D

What about you? Ever get so caught up in something you got sideswiped by something else entirely? Or are you pretty good at keeping perspective?


  1. Good lesson here, it really underlines the benefit of stepping away from your work and having beta readers. As a writer you're focused on the ball, because that's the protagonist and conflict and suspense and climax... well it's a lot of balls, and you're trying to watch 'em all, and there's a lot to miss when you're juggling all that. It's good to have a 3rd party who's not looking for the balls at all. They might see that other thing.


    And then they were like: "Dude. You missed the bear."

    And I was like: [hangs head in shame]


    And yes, I HAVE had this happen before. I was recently told by one of those "they-really-know-what-they're-talking-about-kind-of-writers" that I lost perspective in my set up because I was too excited to get into the meat of my story. Yeah. Not good. Now trying to sort that out, but feeling a might discouraged about it. Failure? Yup, feelin' it!

    Time for bed.

  3. Jamie - ABSOLUTELY agree. It is SO hard watching all the balls, and then trying to catch them. Mine fall on the floor over and over again...then they throw themselves at my face... It's why betas are SO important.

    Julie - LOL Seriously I just laughed so hard I snorted. TOO FUNNY! I was pretty proud of myself, too, when I counted and then that stinkin' bear popped up...

    Hey, at least you handed yours out for critique! We are way too close to our work to really diagnose the problem (and too emotionally involved)...good for you! NO FAILING! I call that success! Now that you've identified the ailment, you can treat accordingly :D

  4. That's a cool little test. I got the number of passes correct, but missed the bear totally. It does make you think, but I also think it depends on WHAT you're focused on. I was told to count the number or passes, so that's what I did. Had I not been told to do that, I would've just watched and prolly would've noticed the bear. Most peeps would, I'd guess. I'm like that when I edit my work as well. One round, I look for nothing but sentence structure. I miss a lot when I do that. The next round I look for plot holes, missing other things. :)

  5. You know, there's really no reason to feel bad for missing the bear. The test is designed to make you miss the bear. The focus is on the white. The bear enters from the right of the screen while the white team is on the left. The bear looks like one of the players in black. He comes in like one of the players, just walking. The white teams shifts to the right of the screen as the bear enters the left. Only then does the bear turn to reveal himself as a bear and do his little dance and leave. It was total sleight of hand like a magician does. Designed to have us looking away from the "trick."

    I get the point. I bike with my kids back-and-forth to school, so I really get the point. But if the bear had danced all the way across the screen, like a cyclist would have, no one would have missed it.

  6. PK - I totally agree! And that's how I edit my stuff, too - each time focusing on a different element. So embarrassing, though, when I go back and see some of the things I miss *hangs head*

    Andrew - lol, yeah I think if the bear was wearing bright colors, that might help, too :D That's awesome you bike with your kids to school!!

  7. Cool little test. I'll have to try it on other people. :)

    To answer your question, yes, I get pounced on by moonwalking bears all the time. I think it's name is Real Life. :P

  8. Krispy - I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN. So annoying. :D

  9. I can't watch it at work but I bet I'd fail it too. I always do with things like that. You're right, when you focus too much you do tend to miss the bigger picture.

  10. I totally did NOT see the bear. But I did get 13. :) That counts for something, right? And yes, I'm guilty of focusing too much and not taking a break to see the big picture in real life, too.

  11. Cool video. I didn't see the bear, but I got the right count. I also watched the "who done it" and caught a few of the changes. However, that was not a totally pure result, because that time I knew to watch for subtle changes.

    What a humbling experience. I always considered myself to be quite observant. Seems the only person I was kidding was myself.(: Perhaps I am too focused. Great excercise, thanks for sharing this. You've given me lots to consider.

  12. I'm so glad you guys are guilty, too. Misery loves company, eh? :D And I'm glad the video could leave an impression! It certainly did on me, well, obviously, hahaha

  13. I'm over from Nancy's blog. That's awesome. I totally missed that. I was cracking up. It's a great lesson though! I think that's one of those things in life--you can become so obsessed with one thing, you never see the alternative coming.

  14. Ugh...my husbands a biker--guess I won't tell him I didn't see the bear. yeeps!

  15. Yeah...This happens on exams!!! :( That's why I don't study right before the exam. I'd kill it, and by kill it I mean do poorly. Also, if I focus too much on writing a paper, I can't do it!

    I've also been focusing too much on these word verification things cause this is the fourth one that doesn't like what I type!

  16. Yeah, I totally missed the bear and I only counted like, 8 passes. I don't have focus and I still miss things!

  17. Lisa - Well, hello there!! Great to meet you :D Glad you laughed, because I was crackin' up too..and then had to make sure they didn't pull one on me.

    Bethany - My hubby's a biker, too!!!! And I told him...*averts eyes*

    Ashley - LOL So sorry!!! Yeah, I was never good test taker. Can't help ya there!

    Susan - HAHA!! Too funny...it's okay. You can always blame it on your characters. They probably distracted you.

  18. That was a pretty ratty looking bear.

  19. (Damn! And here I thought I was all that for getting 13!)

    Well, I am a focused person and a little OCD at that, so of course I missed that damn bear entirely, but I don't feel bad. When I'm specifically told to watch for something, I'll watch, otherwise I'll scan. That test was specifically made to make you miss that bear. If you didn't miss it, you weren't following instructions and that can cause big problems. So I don't think it's a matter of being too focused. I think it s matter of knowing what the goal is.

  20. Chris - HA! I agree ;D

    Nancy - Yeah, I hear ya. But I still think it makes a valid point. They DID tell us what the goal was, but it's not much different than if we tell ourselves what our goal is - either way, if we get an idea in our head and think only on that idea (ie the moonwalking bear), we are likely to miss other things along the way! At least I do. That's why editing takes me so long, lol O_o

  21. Hi there,
    Hope you are well. I have just popped over from Alex's Blog hop list. Sorry it's taken me a while to get to you, there are so many phew!!! Anyway great to "meet" you,, I will stop by as much as I can.
    Eve :)

  22. Um, I miss you. Just so you know.

    We should both become UN-busy again so we can blog ( :

  23. Hello, Eve! Great to meet you! There ARE a ton on Alex's blog hop...do you have a website? I clicked on your profile...?

    Julie - I know, I miss you too! And I totally agree. :(

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