Writer Nightmare Attention Deficit

The Attention Deficit: A Writer’s Nightmare

Inside and outside the workplace, a writer – ever the introverted, quiet type – must deal with the difficult matter of attention and its two methods of delivery: giving and receiving.

“Attention: the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important.” https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/attention

Attention then, clearly, is ever sought after, not just by writers but by all members of the animal kingdom.

However, there is a fatal third factor to take into account alongside giving and receiving; its absence.

This “Attention Deficit” can have explicit issues to the writer and those around him, both online and offline, in their work life and at home.


My hypothesis, based on experience rather than any sort of scientific evidence, is that the best way to receive attention; for your writing, your interests, your existence – is to give it.

Disclaimer: it could easily sound manipulative to say that the best way to get attention is to give it, but just like with active listening, emotional intelligence, kindness and authenticity; it HAS TO BE genuine.

We all need to get into the habit of being good at these things without having to try.

“Only if you can prove you are a good listener, will you be heard.” – TheGSW

attention deficit writer nightmare 2

Giving attention:

This is hopefully the easy, enjoyable and rewarding part and all it takes is a few conversation hacks.

At work:

Don’t be the person that asks “how was your weekend” to absolutely everyone.

Part of your active listening should have taught you to demonstrate awareness about the other person you are talking to.

If you knew your colleague had been going to see a film, ask them directly what they liked or didn’t like about it. If you don’t know what they were doing simply don’t ask!

You should, however, know your colleagues well enough to praise their efforts (who isn’t raising money for charity these days) or explain how you would find what they are doing a challenge and think it is cool that they can do it with ease (who isn’t running marathons these days).

This sort of positivity – once it has become a habit – will see that same level of attention brought right back to you.

At home:

This is both easy and difficult depending on the type of person you are.

Whilst we all like to switch off, unwind and sometimes escape from our own lives when we’re at home, you can and should spend some time checking in with friends. I would wager there are many friends of yours, from school, university or otherwise that would love to hear from you.

Facebook and Whatsapp make it very easy to send a message, but it should just be “hey, what’s up”, try “Time’s flying and a lot has changed for me, do you feel the same way? We should talk soon”.

I’m currently getting into the habit of using the phone instead of texting more, but not everyone else is just yet.

In your personal life:

This can be a challenge, especially if you don’t actively follow your friends lives on social media.

However, given what we know about our friends, you can always give attention to the qualities of theirs that you admire as a way of getting an update.

Asking about a pet, a blog, siblings or habits are a nice way of learning more about the people you probably already know very well.

Similarly, if you know they’ve been going through a hard time, don’t remind them of it so much as remind them that you are around.

Receiving attention:

I’ve talked before about how I fail at being social, but I’ve learned a little since then and have thought a lot about how you can turn some positive attention into action.

At work:

This one is delicate: you need to navigate the politics that infest every workplace.

Once you’ve started giving positive attention to those in your team or peer group, more will start to come your way.

You may find this manifests as an interest in your projects rather than your character, and should handle it accordingly.

We all respond differently to pressure, but when receiving attention for your energy or attainment in the office, it is imperative to give credit where it is due, and be quick to talk about what you might do to improve next time around.

Especially if you are a writer, try to remain humble even if doing well, and be grateful for the eyes on your work.

At home:

Just like in the giving section, I’d wager there are myriad unanswered messages in your many inboxes from friends who you might not have put the effort into getting back to.

It is always worth cultivating attention from these sources, within reason, because you can set expectations at a distance. If you’ve not made the time for people, have the courage to explain why.

In your personal life:

If you are as lucky as I am, sometimes when you are out socialising your friends will ask about your writing – without wishing to hear you rant and rave about how hard it is.

What happens next can be a beautiful moment or a conversation killer depending on your reaction.

I will often say thank you for asking and then try to move on to the creative exploits of others (how are the piano lessons coming on?) but if your peer wants to know and presses, it is ok to be honest about how you feel: we’d all like more amazon reviews, or endorsement from better writers, or more hours in the day, but the fact remains that we would get these things if we did two things.

  • Work harder
  • Ask for help – this is where your friends come in

I have been lucky to have a lot of help from friends in the form of reviews, introductions to their connections, and help with social media channels I don’t understand like instagram.

For me, it was as easy as saying “I’d love some help”.

What to do if you (and your writing) aren’t getting any attention:

As you’re no doubt aware, we’re all very busy.

Turning that “busy-ness” into productivity is key, along with sticking to a tight schedule.

This is without a doubt the hardest part, and why a lot of people get stuck and give up.

I haven’t written on this blog in five months.

Ebook4, ‘the City of This’, is at this point over a year late.

God knows what my shameful hiding from my responsibilities means for the novel and the album.

I can promise you though; they might remain late, but never forever.


“Turning inactivity into frustration, and that frustration into motivation is a key stepping stone from outright failing to struggling.” – TheGSW


It’s no surprise that recent conversations, along with a fresh review have lead to this blog, and more.

I’ll be making sure of that.