Where Is Your Focus?
by Karen Rapp
Have you ever taken a picture using “portrait mode”? On my phone’s camera, it is an effect that essentially sharpens the focus on what is exactly in front of the lens and blurs the background a bit. This really emphasizes the subject of the photo while muting the busyness of the surroundings. The background is still visible, and the colors still enhance the photo, but there’s no mistaking the focus of a portrait-mode picture.
When I recently decided to make writing a priority in my daily life, I quickly learned that it was helpful to view this practice in a way similar to taking a picture in “portrait mode.”
I joined COMPEL in 2020, armed with a potential book idea and a love of words. As I tiptoed in and began to explore, my heart said, “These are my people; this is where I belong.” But being introduced to words like “literary agent,” “platform” and “mailing list” made this world of writing and publishing feel a lot more daunting than I had imagined.
Proverbs 4:25 says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you” (NLT).
So I started working through the COMPEL coursework and watching the Wednesday Workshops. These teachings were incredibly valuable, and I noticed that the majority of the people instructing and leading were actually very similar to me. They put their words on a page one letter at a time.
At that point, I took a deep breath and dialed back my expectations a bit. I realized that forward motion doesn’t have to look like a giant leap from private journaling to having a published book in hand. It can look like focusing on the next right step, whatever that might be for each individual.
Similar to taking a picture in “portrait mode,” when I put the focus of my writing on the next logical task in front of me, I reduce the background noise and this lowers the feeling of overwhelm. The end goal (a larger platform, a published book, etc.) is still visible; it’s just not the focal point.
Right now I am focusing my attention on writing consistently, developing my voice, identifying my reader and finding ways to share my words. As I move forward, my priorities and focus will change, and the picture will look different.
Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (NIV).
There is a feeling of freedom that comes from trusting God with my writing and with the timing of each step.
If you are feeling overwhelmed when you contemplate the expectations and realities of having your words published, may I suggest taking a step back and narrowing your focus on the very next task in front of you? Don’t lose sight of your goals, but invest your time and energy into moving forward one step at a time.
God calls us to be faithful each day. We can trust Him with the outcome.
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