There is a wonderful scene in the movie, Patch Adams, where a patient in a mental institution confronts a fellow patient, played by Robin Williams, and asks him how many fingers he is holding up in front of his face. When Williams provides the answer, four, the other man reels away in disgust, screaming that Williams is insane.

I like the metaphor. I also like the idea of a patient in a mental institution calling someone insane. The point is most of us spend too much time and effort focusing on a particular problem and not enough time finding a solution. I’m not preaching here – I do this way too much and I’d like to stop.

As a writer, I spend a lot of time wondering why I can’t find a following and sell more books. All writers, even the top selling ones, are concerned with the never ending need to promote and sell their work. The problem, for me, anyway, is that I spend a lot of time focusing on this problem. I pretend that I’m seeking a solution through my activity on social media and numerous Internet sites. For the most part, I’m kidding myself. What I’m mainly deriving from my efforts is frustration, stress, and less time for actual writing. Oh, and if I make the mistake of checking my Amazon ranking, it can suck the joy right out of the day.

Focus on the solution. In my case, I think the solution is to strip away the external noise and concentrate on what I need to do: Continue to write; continue to improve; continue to publish. I’ll still promote my work, because it does help a little, but my focus will be on creating new books for my readers to enjoy.

Seems obvious, but it’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of social media and lose your way. I believe this approach can be useful in any situation, with the exception of tenth grade Geometry. That is a problem with no solution.