Thoughts today on focus, how to rebuild concentration, and the alarming truth that every interruption costs us 23 minutes of time to regain previous focus. Also more data on trad publishers buying mostly full manuscripts.
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Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I'm here with my first cup of coffee which is fabulous today is say it with me. It's Friday! woohoo! Ah September Twenty Ninth Nine twenty nine next time we speak it will be October September flew by for me I don't know about you off beautiful golden september though. Ah. Just cannot beat how glorious it is the season of purple and gold here in New Mexico so um I've had a week. Um I I'm actually improving much more than I thought that I had been um and I wanted. Talk about ways to improve particularly um to improve your concentration to improve your productivity and particularly talking about interruptions and the devastating effect that interruptions have on this. Um. Because we know this right? We know it and yet it feels like we have to remind ourselves all the time because the world wants to interrupt us the world wants our attention.
In countless ways and and I do believe you know I'm not much of a the world is going to hell and we're all going to die and we're doomed I'm not that person. Um, but I do think that the culture that we live in now is so a. Tension oriented that really attention is is our greatest currency these days and so um, yeah, and I think people have been talking about it as being like the attention economy. You know how many clicks does something get. How many views does it get how long do people watch it I get um people cold messaging me all the time about this podcast a lot more lately which I feel like I can kind of judge how well the podcast is doing because I really don't look at the metrics a whole lot. Um, but I could. Judge how well it's doing by how many people start messaging me about how I need to improve my Seo to get more views. It's like you have all these subscribers but you don't get views and it's like well a lot of those subscribers are there for the audiobooks. So. I'm not particularly concerned and also I think that if they think that it's worth trying to get my my money then I must be doing something right? Maybe I'm wrong. But anyway they they send me this stuff showing me like.
Oh your metrics are Xyz and wanna go I don't care but clearly that is where the economy is at right that there are people who are out there like how can I grow my podcast. How can I grow my audience. Um, you know people always looking for. How can I get more people to see my books you know. Read my Kindle unlimited books. Um, it's an interesting thing. We have been driven by advertising for a very very long time of course, but it seems that yeah that with the internet with. The changes in ways that people do their viewing with streaming and subscribing and so forth that you know what what Really What really fires the engines for advertisers right? is attention and so now you know like everybody has an app. Have you all noticed this y'all they're all like download our app for this or that and if you use our app then you can get these benefits. It's like I don't want apps on my phone I don't want more apps and and I say this to people I'm a very difficult customer. It's I think um. Ah, you know because I just I question everything and and doranda laughs at me because she says my favorite phrase is is it though because she'll tell me things Leo and is it is that true and so like some business will tell me well just download our app and then you can do this.
You know X Y Z or have this benefit and I'm like yeah I don't want the app on my phone and they're like oh but it's so easy and it's free and I'm like I don't care I don't want your app on my phone I don't want you sending me push notifications. So that phrase right? There tells you so much of what you need to know right. Push notification. They want to push it into your life into your attention right? Um I turn off all of my push notifications I don't want to see them I I don't want to be pushed.
So anyway I saw this very interesting instagram reel because I do occasionally scroll through Instagram probably more than I ought and this guy was talking about I wonder if I could figure out who it is okay. So. So this is effective advertising right? I looked up who this guy is and his name is Johann Hari and it says author of 3 New York Times bestselling books. The latest is stolen focus why you can't pay attention. Um, so he had his little clip on Instagram. Where he talked about that on average when we are interrupted when we are focusing on something and are interrupted. It takes 23 minutes to get that focus back again. 23 minutes so there and I sent this to a couple of friends. Um, you know if you are constantly interrupted by notifications messages and this is like text messages whatsapp messages um notify push notifications from Facebook and Instagram and Twitter which is now x or whatever the hell. Um. Plus emails plus phone calls if you're in an office people talking to if it feels like you are spending your entire day not being able to focus. That's why because if you can't get longer than 23 minutes to regain your focus on what you're working on then.
Then you're screwed right? You're you never focus.
There's something up in the grape binds above me see that got my attention didn't it. So I've been thinking about this a lot because I've been trying to regain my concentration so that I can get word count. Um I am behind on getting twisted magic written. Um, it's not a huge hairy deal I can push out the release date. But I'm really trying not to I I want besides I need to ramp up. Um, and there are a few things that are working against that one is I get out of the habit. Ah I really do believe that that writing habit makes a huge difference and but also the habit of concentrating and so when I sent this video to Duranda yesterday. Ah you know and. It's it's nicely put. It's very concise. It's like so you know if you get a text message and somebody says well you know why can't you reply to me. It only takes 2 seconds for you to you know, give me a thumbs up or something like that. It's like well maybe that's true, 2 seconds but it's 2 seconds plus 23 minutes to get my concentration back and Doranda was saying that you know that she's so bad about it because she'll have her phone next to her and.
You know somebody will call or text her or message her and she'll you know then lose what focus she had gained um but then also um, you know writing this is huge spoiler folks writing is not easy.
And like every time we get to a stuck point and I've been doing this too I've my phone next to me and I'll pick up my phone to check and look at something so I need to get much much better about this I'm going back to old habits that I used to do of. Having my phone silenced and putting it in the other room so that because if I can get a concentrated hour of writing I can write 11 to 1200 words in an hour and it's not that difficult um if I am scattered and. Checking my phone and not concentrating well 200 words 400 maybe so I've been gradually ramping back up again and I know some of you were following me this summer when I was ramping up then um, some of this is you know, just training. My attention again training my focus um breaking bad habits of like looking for something to distract me from the hardness of the work. Um, but so like this month or September is not going to be a great month for me. But it's not as bad as I thought that it was going to be It's um, ah, it's my fifth most productive month of the year so far which is I mean not saying a lot but it's also it's not the worst and this week particularly if I do well today.
It will be my highest word count week since um, well like the third week of July and so I mean that's pretty good and so I've been doing a few things. Ah most of you know that I work in like three one hour sprints and I set up my conditional formatting on my excel spreadsheet where I try to do two things I keep an average of how many words I tend to do at for each Sprint. So I try to for each hour I try to do better than my average for this book so far I've I've started just tracking for each book because it got to be too much for my overall trackingness. Um I used to keep it in that formula got too huge. Ah so. And then I try to do better than I did on that hour the previous day and then I've also been on Monday I didn't have a great day I was just scattered but I got like 551 words for the whole day. Ah. But I thought okay I'm gonna go back to my training program of gradually ramping up my friend Mary Robinette Kool made me a fabulous graphic of my ramp up program I don't know if I shared that with all of you.
But I I originally made it for like nanorimo for national novel writing month that instead of the the inclination. What people try to do is if they're writing the 50000 words in one month is they divide the thirty days of November into. 50000 words. Ah, all it's Jackson who's up on the grapevine above no wonder. Ah ah, pretty funny and distracting. Ah why we can't focus because cats are in the grape barbor.
Now see we've hit. we're we're on brand for first cup of coffee. We've hit cats and New Mexico weather so um yeah instead of doing okay so you like 50000 divided by thirty days you get like 16 66 point 7 or what have you. And so people will do that many words every day. Ah and what happens is is you max out. This is like um, it's like overtraining you go from 0 to 60 without building up the ability to to produce. Words on a regular basis. So what I've suggest is that people write 100 words on the first day 200 words on the next day then like three hundred then four hundred etc and so you end up by the end of the month you're writing considerably more than you're 16 66 but by then you're in shape and you're able to do it so that's what I'm going back to because I kept thinking oh I should be able to just get back to my 3000 words a day and I was crashing myself out I was doing too much on one day. So. Monday when I only got the five fifty I thought okay I'm just gonna start gradually adding and do 500 more words each day. So I've done. Um, this week. Let's see here. We go. So.
Monday yeah, the 56 Tuesday I got the 1222 Wednesday 1678 yesterday I got twenty one seventy nine and today I'm going to try to go for more than 2500 and then next week. Get up over 3000 and then I'm going to see if I can write like 3300 to 3500 words a day for the next several weeks in October to see if I can get this book written on time. Um, and I'm going to do these other measures to. Really guard my focus I get lazy about it over time because I feel like my focus is so good when I'm getting my 3000 words a day and I'm clicking then I'm not easily distracted but it's when I am already distracted when my focus has been shattered and there's so much stuff going on is that. Been a busy couple of months for me a lot of distractions. So I have to deliberately build that focus skin deliberately ah renew my ability to concentrate so pulling out the stops. It's amazing to me that I have to learn this over and over and over again I was talking with some people in my discord in my Patreon um, answering some questions and we were talking about beginnings.
Because I wrote a blog post on Wednesday about beginnings and I will put this but blog post you know, like my my 3 tips for how to open ah a story and and they're the principles that I use. Um. And so we were talking about that. But 1 of the things that I had said in this blog post is that figuring out where to start the book or story never gets easier. It's an ongoing battle and um Duranda and I talk about this all the time you know trying to find the right place and then. Refining that opening that we work on that opening so many times and some of the newer writers in my discord. You know they're like I can't tell if it's daunting or reassuring to hear that these things don't get easier. And it's like they don't they just it. That's part of the art of it. That's part of the craft and yet it doesn't get easier but that's part of why we do it right? This is the the challenge. Um, so otherwise I have been. Really want to get twisted magic done by the end of the month if it is delayed. It won't be delayed very far into November so it's it's coming along now a little bit different structure than I thought it would have so that's always entertaining and.
I've made a plan for what I'm writing through basically for the next year I charted out what I'm doing because I'm going to have a revision soon on onira from my new editor very exciting and she wants to start talking about ideas for the second book because it's a 2 book deal. Um. And I think she wants that book fairly soon which is fine by me because that means I get money sooner and it's always nice to get the external deadlines I think of them as the deadlines that come from people who aren't me right that my contracted deadlines always have to take priority and I would much rather you know. Be in good good shape. There. Um, but I also don't want to let the self publishing momentum fall off like I've really done this year so I'm going to do a few things I also had a conversation with agent Sarah. Earlier this week um about amethyst run which is still out on submission. But um, we talked about I'm gonna finish writing that book and see if we can sell it on a full manuscript I I told her I'm conceding the point I think she's absolutely right.
It's so much easier to sell these books to publishers these days if you have the complete manuscript. They just are not buying a lot on spec unless you have like a massive massive platform and they are just sure that they're going to sell millions of books. Um I don't think I would have gotten this deal unknown on oira if it hadn't been complete because everybody talks about the ending and like how amazing you know, like sobbing through the last third of the book and so forth. Um, you know and Sarah even said to me she said you know. We agents and editors. We just don't have. There's a reasona. We're not writers. We don't have your imagination and we can't see how the book is going to go unless you give it to us. So so that's all on my schedule I'm going to do these revisions I'm going to finish writing amethyst run.
I'm going to be writing this book too for my new publisher at some point and then I also want to write a new trilogy and I'm going to see what it's going to be once I finish twisted magic I've thought that there is going to be 1 more trilogy. To finish out a 9 book arc and I don't know I'm not sure. Um I thought that it was going to be about aise for those of you who've been reading it. Um, and there there is already in twisted magic a chapter from elisa's point of view. So I'm going to see how this story plays out and then see what's there. But if you have requests I am going to self publishlish. Ah some kind of trilogy in 2024 so yeah, if you have things that you want me to write now is your time to say so I do think that I have a better chance of good sales success with something totally new than with a 3 book trilogy that's continuing. The bonds of magic renegades of magic world just look at the numbers. It seems to be the case but I'm amenable so on that note I hope you all have an amazing weekend I hope you get some beautiful golden weather wherever you are spring or autumn and I will talk to you all.
On Monday in October you all take care bye bye.