In my experience, it’s a rare to find a creative who can stay focused on a single craft, and doesn’t enjoy multiple other art forms.
As a copywriter, I have a huge range of interests that don’t relate to my day job: I dabble in illustration and design, write fiction and play the flute (no band camp jokes, dammit), just to name a few. Other writers have myriads of other hobbies, and while this is a wonderful thing, it can hamper your ability to stay focused long enough to build a meaningful career.
It can, in other words, lead to what I have dubbed Shiny Object Syndrome.
Shiny Object Syndrome is a relatively simple condition to describe (if not to cure). It’s the habit of bouncing around from one idea to another, abandoning projects midway to start new, more appealing-seeming projects.
They’re not actually more appealing, of course. They’re just new, which is often enough to convince us that they’re better.
(Incidentally, this is the subject of my upcoming book, Get the Hell Into It: Stop Bouncing from Idea to Idea and Learn to See Things Through. If you want to be the first to know when it releases, as well as get instant access to all the resources in the free library, just enter your deets here.)
The problem with Shiny Object Syndrome – a malady that seems mainly to affect children and creatives – is that it hampers your ability to stay focused. If you’re always jumping off to the next thing, it’s hard to stay at this thing long enough to:
The second item might seem rather mercenary, but it’s not. Think of anyone you admire: a blogger, an artist, an author. With the exception of the breakout star, most of those people had to really, really work to get where they are.
The blogger has hundreds of posts; the artist has a whole portfolio; the author has a raft of short stories to their name, and probably – by the time you’ve heard of them – more than one book. So volume matters.
If you can’t get that volume, if you can’t put in enough hours to grow your business, if you can’t stay focused long enough to finish a novel manuscript, or a website, or a copywriting portfolio or even – heaven forbid – a project for clients, your level of success will undoubtedly suffer.
If you want, therefore, to become a successful copywriter, you need to stick to it day by day, hour by hour. Even when you don’t want to. Even when poetry or short stories or nonfiction book proposals sound more fun.
Even when your easel calls you. Even when you want to head off to that impromptu jam session instead. Even when you get the urge to go back to school (again) to learn that skill that will doubtless transform your life (again).
It’s time to stay focused.
Now … just how do you do that?
Achieving focus is easier said than done, of course. You can grit your teeth and swear that this time you’ll stay at your keyboard until XYZ, but if you sit down and get bored, you may not succeed no matter how determined you are.
Instead, you need strategies. Here are three of my favorites.
I hate to sound cliché, but this buzzword is totally where it’s at. Your “why” is critical … why do you want to be a copywriter? Why did you decide this was the right career for you?
Here’s mine: I became a copywriter so that I could spend all day writing, and someday become proficient enough at the craft and have enough time to write a novel. I’m happy to say things are progressing on both fronts.
Racing the clock is one of my favorite ways to keep my butt in the chair and get something done. If I challenge myself to knocking out a certain number of words or assignments in a certain stretch of time, I’m much likelier to get the job done. This is also an excellent tool to face your fear of the blank page, btw.
It’s critical to always be building. Theoretically, I could spend all my time writing for clients, but I choose not to. With part of my work time, I send out newsletters, write blog posts, create content for social media and launch copywriting courses. And if, unlike me, you don’t have as much work as you could possibly do, this is even more important. You have to stay focused on creating marketing content so that someday you’ll get to that point … and be set for life.
If you want to learn more about staying focused and building a writing career, go ahead and click that pretty picture below to get immediate access to the Free Resource Library. Get ready to defeat Shiny Object Syndrome once and for all!
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