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What Can Set You Apart: Your Ability to Focus

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In an excellent interview by Dan Blank, Christina Katz talks about practices and skills of successful writers. Here's a brief (edited) transcription of the opening message of the conversation.

There's a lot of confusion out there for writers. Writers are being overwhelmed with messages telling them you gotta do this–no wait, you gotta do this.

That sounding the alarm would be difficult for any kind of creative person. I'm not saying put yourself in a bubble, but … There's all of this yimmer-yammer going on constantly—calls for action.

So my job as a writing instructor is to say: Look, yes, there's change in the publishing industry, but this is good news for writers, so there's nothing to panic about.

The most important thing is: What's on your plate? How are you going to get your work done? How are you going to organize your life so you can proceed in an orderly manner, and how you are going to buffer yourself from all the insanity going on?

(I highly recommend listening to the first half-hour of the interview for more great insights.)

I agree with Christina that there's a cacophony of voices in the writing and publishing world, and trying to make sense of it all (much less stay current on it) can be counterproductive to getting real work done.

And I must admit to being one of those distracting voices, though I hope, to some extent, my link roundups, and other posts, help point to the most important information or advice to be aware of.

But, as Christina says, you have to focus on what's most important to getting the work done, and not allow yourself to get distracted from building the skills to move your career forward.

I'm curious how you decide which sources of information are worth the time or energy to follow (whether online or off), and if there's a point at which you eventually stop following a particular source? How do you put up filters?

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