The Tale Of Francine Focus And The Never-Miss-Outs

image: RevTimMedia

The Never-Miss-Outs were the most creative kids in town.

They were into every art form you could imagine.

They wrote and they read. They crafted and they carved. They filmed and they photographed. They sculpted and they sang. They pranced and they painted and they printed and they played.

The Never-Miss-Outs never missed out on any new way of creating that came along either.

As soon as the latest art form arrived, they were on to that too, declaring that this, finally, would be the medium that was just right for them, and would let their talent gush like a waterfall after a month of relentless rain.

On the surface, it sounded like the Never-Miss-Outs had the most exciting and creative lives imaginable.

Anyone looking into their world from the outside would think that they were so happy and so lucky to be talented in so many different areas, and to have so many amazing projects on the go.

But appearances are not always what they seem.

In fact, although the Never-Miss-Outs were indeed talented, they weren’t very happy at all. Often, they were downright miserable.

The problem was, they never saw any of the wonderful projects they started through to the end. They never saw most of them very much past the beginning.

They were always flitting to the next shiny new idea, abandoning in an instant whatever it was they were working on before and declaring it yesterday’s news. They never gave anything a chance to grow and evolve into something they could be proud of, something they could learn from.

The allure of the new always seemed greater. But in the end, they always felt so empty and dissatisfied.

Francine had been a Never-Miss-Out for most of her life, and like the others, never wanted to miss out on the latest art forms, and the most dazzling new ideas and materials.

But things were changing.

Francine was fed up with feeling dizzy from racing from project to project, from one new big thing to another, and never getting anything finished.

Worse than not finishing, and having an increasingly huge mountain of abandoned projects looming behind her, Francine, like the other Never-Miss-Outs, never enjoyed any of her creating because she was never able to lose herself in the moment, immerse herself in the pleasure that only creating can bring.

How can you enjoy what you’re doing if your attention is always half on what you might start next, and half on what you failed to finish in the past?

So, one day, Francine decided to change her ways.

She decided to pick just one medium to work on for the next few months, and to become as good as she could be in that.

She gave away all her other art materials and equipment – most of which had been used once or never at all – and just kept the bare minimum she needed.

Since Francine had chosen to focus on her writing, she needed nothing more than three essentials: her notebook, her pencil, and her imagination.

Then, Francine picked one project to work on for the next two weeks. It was a story she had found floating in her thoughts, asking to be heard, pleading to be written.

So, as she had promised herself, each and every day for the next 14 days, Francine wrote her story.

The rest of the Never-Miss-Outs kept coming by Francine’s house and trying to lure her back to their ways, dangling whatever shiny new project they had just started in front of her window.

But Francine was strong, and determined. And she worked only on her story.

Fourteen days later, Francine had written more on that one project than she’d written the rest of the year combined. In fact, she’d written more in 14 days than in maybe the last 14 years.

She was ecstatic, and so proud to finally find that feeling she’d thought was just a myth – becoming so lost in creating just one project that you lose track of time, of where you are, even of who you are, and create purely for the pleasure of creating.

And what a pleasure it was.

The Never-Miss-Outs, who had scoffed at first, now renamed her Francine Focus.

They were forced to give up their mocking, because Francine’s happiness was so abundantly obvious, and instead they pleaded for her to teach them how to be this creative and this happy too.

Francine Focus started a revolution amongst the Never-Miss-Outs.

She taught them how to stop chasing the shiny new ideas that appeared in their heads at such a rate it made them spin and feel sick, and instead to pick just one thing.

Francine taught them how to get focused on what was most important to them. She taught them how to create what mattered, and set everything else to one side.

And from then on, the Never-Miss-Outs found they did miss out. They missed out on plenty.

They missed out on always feeling anxious, overwhelmed, unfulfilled, dissatisfied and uncreative. They missed out on feeling failures because of all the abandoned projects they had stacked in their closets. They missed out on wondering if this was as good as life as an artist got, wondering whether it as supposed to be this hard, and feeling like throwing it all in.

But in exchange, they got to feel a happiness and reward in creating like they’d never known before.

And that was worth missing out on virtually anything for…

How To Get Focused And Create What Matters

If getting focused is something you struggle with in your creative life, you might like to check out my ebook – How To Get Focused And Create What MattersA Practical Guide for Choosing Your Best Ideas and Bringing Them To Completion.


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6 thoughts on “The Tale Of Francine Focus And The Never-Miss-Outs”

  1. Actually, Dan, I think many CCS folks will find this offensive. It’s always fun to learn a new way to create. It doesn’t mean you always “sell your soul” to it.

    For instance, I recently – thanks to Anne W. – discovered “Iris Folding Paper” art. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few days creating with this medium, and I’m proud of what I’ve created. The thrill will pass, but I’ll never forget how to do it.

    Which doesn’t mean that all my other loves of are expression are thrown by the wayside. They are still active and thrilling and wonderful – whenever I choose to use them. Because I practiced each method, it always comes back easily and in a welcome, excited way.

    Shed what you will. Shedding doesn’t necessarily mean “getting rid of everything you know.” Some things can’t be lost. Artistic expression in any form, once learned, is always there to greet you when you need it.


  2. Mary, and Laura, thank you both for your comments.

    I think the point may have been slightly lost, the key lines are:

    “Francine picked one project to work on for the next two weeks… Fourteen days later, Francine had written more on that one project than she’d written the rest of the year combined. In fact, she’d written more in 14 days than in maybe the last 14 years.”

    It’s like picking one book to read and sticking with it from cover to cover, losing yourself in it, a book you’ve been wanting to read for ages, but instead you’ve read only the first chapter of a dozen others, then cast them aside when another exciting new one comes along.

    Francine didn’t give up on every other form of creating forever. She simply focused on one thing, one medium, one project, and worked on it a little each day for 14 days, and found it helped her be more creative than in years, maybe ever.

    Maybe the next 14 days she would carry on with the same project. Maybe she’d write something else. Maybe she’d create something else entirely in a whole other medium.

    By finding that focus once, she knew how to do it again and again. She rediscovered a love of creating that had been missing for as long as she could remember.

    I’m not saying give up all your creative ambitions and the different media you love. I’m saying you can stop that dizzy, anxious, I-feel-a-complete-failure-because-I-barely-get-started-with-any-project feeling by picking one thing and focusing on that alone for a set period of time.

    It works, and sometimes it’s the only thing that works.

    Thanks for allowing me to clarify. 🙂


  3. I never take anyones suggestions as offensive. I accept that different things work for different people and that those who give advice are almost always just trying to share the ways that work for them!
    Julia Cameron, as I read her, counsels that one should not expect to be more productive by focussing on one and only one thing over a stretch of many weeks and gives various friends as evidence.
    I like having projects of different size going, so if there is one project that may take months to complete, there are other things that come to satisfying conclusions along the way. It is also in my work style to take on some riskier and some surer things. And I have had several productive decades working that way.
    Divergent thinkers, I was taught,tend to prefer having more things happening at once and convergent thinkers one at a time. That doesn’t mean that anyone benefits from doing two things in the same minute, but many will have a preferred and productive workstyle that involves working on more than one thing in a day or a week.


    1. Yes, and anyone who teaches or shares anything with the intent of helping others learn and grow, does it from the viewpoint of “Hey I tried this, it works really well for me, I shared it with others, it works for them too, give it a try yourself and see if it, or parts of it, can help you too”… We seek, we learn, we take the parts that work for us and leave the rest.

      The point of the story was about someone who’d created very little because they frenetically hopped from project to project, and how the method of working on one thing for a little time each day for 14 days (a blink of an eye in our whole lifetimes in reality) helped them find a new far more focused and beneficial way of working.

      Personally I have probably dozens of projects that are “active” or works in progress, but the only way to make progress on any of them is to give it your undivided attention and energy, which I’ve found particularly productive this last nine months or so.


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