I recently finished reading Deep Work, by Cal Newport.
Why I liked it
First, it was recommended by my friend, Dave Clayton, minister of Ethos Church. Dave had a grandiose calling/vision and this week launched a movement called Awaken Nashville. Check it out. I'm honored to participate in this revival that allows me to pray and fast for folks in my city.
Second, as a writer/professor, the quality and quantity of my own grandiose efforts depends on my ability to focus. And focus in 2019 is often hard to come by.
Everyone's level of noise and distraction ebbs and flows, including mine, but the overall volume is forever inching up.
Each January I find myself seeking ways to minimize noise and distraction so that I can make my highest contributions to the few things that are most important to me instead of depleting my finite energy attending to the non-urgent.
This is why I was drawn to Newport's book. As promised in the title and premise, it has proven a blessing.
Best Lessons Learned
The more I allow my mind to be distracted, the more I lose my ability to focus deeply. The mind is a muscle. When I jerk it back and forth, going from email to a Google search to reading a work article to checking the news, it's like doing micro-second stretches rather than leaning in and holding it for a count of twenty.
Most of us are busier than we've ever been, but we're not necessarily accomplishing more. If you have aspirations for reaching big goals (writing a book, training for a marathon, leading a city-wide movement), some long, uninterrupted runs are required.
Irons in the Fire
I'm teaching a full load of courses this spring and have amazing students.
In February I'll attend a writer's conference on a cruise ship. Visions of me at three years old in a yellow swimsuit watching others in the sea from the safety of my beach towel keep coming to mind. Pitching to publishers AND sharks swimming beneath the boat...sobering. Wish me luck.
On the writing front, I'm finishing a contemporary story about a recently divorced woman who yearns to know if she can make it as a writer. A snowstorm, a ghost and a small town sheriff will help her learn the answers. I'll pitch this story PLUS the adaptation of my first book, Leaving Independence, to anyone on board the ship who will listen.
Oh, and the Kindle version of Leaving Independence will be on sale during February as a Kindle book deal ($.99)--I should tell you that! Amazon is also currently running the paperback of A Contradiction to His Pride on sale for $5.60. That's cheaper than I can get it, so...stock up!
In April I'll speak at a local Ladies Day in Nashville. More details forthcoming.
Meanwhile, I'll keep writing, teaching, praying/fasting, and wishing for each of you a 2019 that holds more blessing than heartache, more joy than loss.