Your creative apprenticeship – Hyperfocus

hyperfocus.jpgLast week saw the start of a series of Collab Writers blogs on your creative apprenticeship. We began with learning from the greats, Hemingway and Stephen King.

You’ve all heard that old adage:

“If you want to get something done ask a busy person.

In the world we live in, that doesn’t leave many people out. In this blog we want to share with you the life skills we have learnt to get things done. It’s as simple as that, the art of getting stuff done.

What is hyper focusing and why is it worthy of a blog?

As busy bees, like most of you are, we found ourselves with lots of deadlines and very little time to get them done. The art of hyper focusing is learning how to grab spare moments of time and using them to do things quickly. You can start with the following methods:

1.Write key points / creative triggers on a single page / notepad on your phone


3.Grab every moment you can to hyperfocus on the task in hand – including when you are on the go.

How you can learn more about this method?

If you learn through doing then just get started. If you need to read more about this then check out Mind Mapping via Tony Buzan’s excellent books.  This is how Collab’s Jennie Griffiths got addicted to the hyper focus world twenty odd years ago. If you haven’t read them, do. This way of thinking changed Jennie’s life and set her well on the road of hyper focusing that serves her well today.

The Multi Hyphen Method is another excellent book. It reflects the portfolio lifestyle that’s so popular today.

The one pager for creatives

Get it down on paper, it’s as simple as that. There are very few ideas or documents that can’t be summarised into a one (or at most) two pager. This tool can help you at work. And it is a really great tool that can help you as a creative, as a writer or a filmmaker.

Write your ideas in bullet points. You’ve heard of Bullet Journals – they’re all the rage. A bullet journals is the brainchild of a hyper focuser. We’ve been using them since we studied for GCSEs (and trust us that was a long time ago!). They got us through university exams, helped with our kickstarter campaign and have become a daily habit.

How to mind map as a creative

As a creative this is where it gets really fun. Grab your notebook and just write or draw your ideas on paper.

If you prefer tech, use Meind meister online – a tool that helps you create your mind maps.

Let your imagination draw your treasure trove of ideas.

You can have sub mind-maps of practical ways to produce ideas. Once they are committed to paper or an electronic mind map it’s hard to forget them. They will likely bug you until you bring them to life.

Believe it or not, Collab Writers original conception was via a mind map two years ago.  Fortunately, it got written down at the time and then nagged and nagged until it was brought to life last year!

Time and habit 

Remember that there are 24 long hours in every single day, 365 of them in every single year.

We don’t want to hear your moans about having to go to work. There are several waking hours before you go to work. And, you get to choose how to spend them. If you decide to spend them sleeping or working out instead of writing, that’s a choice. You don’t have to. Try mixing it up from time to time. Morning is a great time to get into the creative flow as the mind is rested before the onslaught of the day. As the great 13th century Persian mystic and poet Rumi said:

“The morning breeze has secrets to tell you. Do not go back to sleep.”

The 20 minute slot 

A whole 20 minutes is a dream to the seasoned hyper focuser. It is a huge slice of time when you can actually get a lot done. You can skim read a ten to fifteen page document in that time and pull out what you need to focus on. You can also write a poem, an instalment of a novel or a short screen in a screenplay.

If you are on public transport, you can sketch or jot down characteristics of the person opposite you – they might make a fantastic character for your story.

If you are at home, you can set a timer and just write for twenty minutes. It’s hardly a big commitment and the busiest person can spare that amount of time. If you are caring for children, steal some time whist they are asleep. The dishes and laundry can wait!

The commute

Leaving the best to last, this is the easiest way to steal 20 minutes at the beginning and end of your day. That time when you are on the subway or the train – try to stand or lean or something (or someone) and just write or read.

Those of you turning your noses up at this suggestion remember that that is how Collab Writers wrote the first draft of their collaborative novel, Consequences, on the daily commute, every day for 365 days. It’s surprising what you can do when you put your mind to something and hyper focus.

And, if you’ve no commute, lucky you – you have literally ‘bags of time’ so fill em bags full of ideas, pictures and words.

Go get ’em creative tigers!

Collab Writers Networking from home

Come and meet fellow writers, filmmakers and other creatives: During the Lockdown – join us FREE at our Virtual Monthly networking on April 2nd 19:00 – 20:00