I went blackberry picking this afternoon. It’s an annual rite for me – no summer goes by without it. I spend an hour getting scratched while I feel the warm sun on my back, smell the summery leaves and get purple-handed. Oh, yes, and I come away with about five pounds of ripe, purple, juicy berries.

That’s nice, Val, but what has it got to do with writing and focus?

Absolutely nothing. That’s the point.

You came here to read about focus, and instead I’m waffling on about something totally different. It might be pleasant reading, but it’s not what this post is about. It’s about how, so often in our writing, we forget about the actual focus of the story or the article we’re working on.

We catch sight of this idea that is sorta linked and we’re off chasing a red herring that has not much to do with our main point or focus. Or we come across a thought that pleases us, a thought that is kinda linked, and before we know it we’re sliding off into a tangent that takes us away from our main theme.

These thoughts and ideas are such attractive nuisances, but that’s all they are. If they don’t contribute to the main theme or premise, they don’t belong. Even if they dress in red with ruffles and dance the fandango, they still don’t belong.

We need to be something of a detective as we edit our work, with our eyes peeled for the words and paragraphs that take the reader’s mind away from the core of our writing.

When we first started this story or essay or article we had a clear idea what it was about. We did, didn’t we? We didn’t just launch into it vaguely? This idea is the lodestar that we keep your eye on and don’t deviate from. It’s our premise, our promise and our focus.

Now, back to the blackberries.