Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay archives, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Entries in focus (2)


Insecurity, distractions and FINDING FOCUS again while writing

Title: "Looking For Thyme"

Having trouble finding the time to write during the day because of interruptions or other distractions? Or fighting the urge to go look stuff up on Google during your writing sessions?

(hand waving weakly here)

This year I'm going back to writing first thing in the morning to learn how to focus again. I have no problem focusing when I'm illustrating, or doing nonfiction or blog writing. When I'm doing fiction writing, however, I find myself constantly distracted.

Part of this, I'm suspecting, is insecurity. My theory: my subconscious is yelling "if you finish this new book, you're just going to get rejected again! I'm not going to let you finish!" 


Julia Cameron suggests doing three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. I tried this some years back and while it worked for a bit, I just found the process of writing by hand too laborious; I'm so used to typing on the computer keyboard. I'm also aiming for a specific wordcount rather than number of pages. However, I love the basic idea so am adapting it for my own situation.

I'm trying to do some writing first thing in the morning, before anything else. I also gave this a shot early last year but got too easily distracted. Trying it again this year but instead of fighting the distractions and worries that crowd into my head as I'm writing, I'm EMBRACING IT. If I start getting the impulse to "just take a second" to go check something online, I put that into my stream-of-consciousness writing session instead ("Right now I'm fighting the urge to go look up xxxxx...").

Sounds silly, I know, but it seems to satisfy the part of my brain that needs to do something about the thought RIGHT THEN AND THERE, so I can keep on writing about other things.

I'm also counting this as part of my Daily Words goal, which is currently 500 words/day. This morning I wrote 433 words but later today I'm going to do another writing session specifically for my own writing projects. I also find Ommwriter and Coffitivity help me focus. I've tried apps like Freedom, which turn off Internet access on my desktop computer, but I find it's way too easy to hack them. :-\

Much better, I think, to try to change my habits rather than try to hide the shiny toy.

My hope: that the habit of writing first thing in the morning starts feeling more natural to me than my OoShinyToyMustGoogleIt and "just spend a few minutes checking social media" urges.

And if the morning stream-of-consciousness exercise feels like it's becoming a regular habit, I'll stop counting those words as being part of my Daily Words goal and just count my project writing. I'll keep doing my morning warm-up, though.

If any of you are having the same issues as I am, I encourage you to try stream-of-consciousness writing, first thing in the morning. Let yourself write ANYTHING: poetry, fiction snippets, personalstuff, whatever pops into your head....just keep writing and DON'T leave whatever app you're using to "just look something up" or check email.

Good luck!  I'll check in later in a month or two to let you know how I've been doing as well.


The Challenge: 250, 500 or 1000 words/day. Also see my 250, 500 or 1000 words/day Facebook page.



Happy New Year's! Plus thoughts on New Year's Resolutions, time management and finding focus

 Above: Quickie sketch experiment -- First I did the ink drawing by hand using a Pentel Pocket Pen Brush on sketchbook paper. Then I scanned it, imported into Photoshop, and digitally colored the drawing.

Happy New Year's, all! Apologies for the hiatus. Between the Toronto ice storm (we were one of the households that lost power) and work (auditioning for a veryveryvery cool book-related project; please cross your fingers for me!), I didn't have time to do much blogging.

For 2014, I've decided not to post any specific resolutions except for one: Strive for focus

Those of you who have been following my various blogs over the years already know that I have a wide variety of creative interests. Some come and go while others have remained constant. My challenge: there are WAY too many things I want to do and learn to do well, but not enough time. Plus I tend to be prone to the "ooo shiny" reaction when I come across cool and inspiring things. Which, um, is often.

This year, I have a pretty intense work schedule in terms of book writing and illustration work. I'm very excited about it all and want to find ways to be more productive. Don't get me wrong: I strongly believe in the importance of CREATIVE PLAYTIME, but I also think that I have way too many creative playtime interests at present. 

This year, rather than try to do them all and just feel frustrated and scattered, I'm going to deliberately cut back on my usual "going to find time to do more xxxx this year" goals as well as cutting back on related Physical Stuff.


SEWING STUFF - Back in 2008, I decided to learn how to use a sewing machine and a serger (I won the latter in a raffle and had no idea what it was at first), learn how to sew my own clothes, make all kinds of cool sewing thingies, blah di blah blah. Years later, I am having to admit to myself that I simply Don't Have Time. So I just gave away my serger, dressmaking form, and am also giving away most of my sewing notions, extra fabric, and throwing out all the partly-finished projects I abandoned a while back. Keeping my one simple sewing machine, though. :-)

CRAFT STUFF - I am a craft supplies addict, I admit it, and am inexorably drawn to the sales at local craft shops. I have accumulated jewelry-making notions, beads, glues, rubber stamps, inks, different types of paint, scrapbook stuff, glitter etc. etc. over the years. To make more room for my sketchbooks, drawing materials, mini photo studio (a Christmas gift from Jeff, for my found art doodles), higher-end printer, watercolors and other materials more directly related to my current work, I am also giving away boxes of other craft stuff.

I did a huge office purge over the holidays, and am pretty happy with the result so far.

Next step: Reduce my online clutter and distractions to improve focus and productivity. I've already found some great tools and tips, and will be sharing this over the coming year, in case it helps anyone else. 

Anyone else have a New Year's Resolution they'd like to share? Or tip on focusing?