Maintain Focus With Aesthetic Isolation
When you’re deep in a project, it can be too distracting to enjoy the entertainment that we normally enjoy. For this reason, I recommend a little tactic called “aesthetic isolation.”
The idea behind aesthetic isolation is to create a specific environment or set of conditions that will allow you to focus on your work while still being able to relax and enjoy yourself; only read certain books, watch specific movies or shows, and listen to particular music genres that aid the creative process.
Why choose aesthetic isolation?
When you’re writing a story, it’s extremely easy to be influenced by your entertainment. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can mean an influence that doesn’t fit your novel’s style. Aesthetic isolation allows you to enjoy the things that bring you joy, without disrupting your creative flow.
For example, if you’re writing a murder mystery, but find yourself reading romance novels, you could become so inspired by the love story that your novel incorporates those elements, even if it doesn’t serve your narrative. It’s easy to get carried away and take your novel on a long detour that you eventually have to backtrack on in revision.
Aesthetic isolation lets you stay focused, with your project at the centre, but without the stress of constant work. It also keeps you thematically inspired, so you don’t need to walk back on any changes you made due to outside influences.
How do you do it?
The best way to create a “vibe” for aesthetic isolation is to pitch your novel to yourself. What is the theme? What are some comp titles that you draw inspiration from? How do you picture your characters and setting? You might even like to develop a mood board on Pinterest that gathers all these aesthetic cues together in a single place.
I describe my own novel as Outlander meets Doctor Who, meets Lost. My aesthetic is seafaring, 19th-century castles, mysterious islands, and time travel. My aesthetic isolation, therefore, obviously includes reading and watching the series that have inspired me, but I can also supplement it with other things that fit that mood and theme. But, I have to be very careful not to overindulge in the wrong genre so that I can maintain the aesthetic I’ve chosen for my novel.
Does aesthetic isolation work for every writer? Nothing works for everyone. But it’s definitely worth a try if you struggle with any of the following:
- Difficulty maintaining your genre standards
- Sticking to your outline
- Accidentally putting in irrelevant scenes that you like but that don’t go with the rest of your novel
- Loss of focus on your story’s overall goal
Aesthetic isolation can be a powerful tool for anyone who struggles to focus on a project while also enjoying their free time. By immersing yourself in a controlled, genre and vibe-specific aesthetic world, you can relax and enjoy yourself while also staying productive — you can strike the perfect balance between work and play.