Tag Archive - distractions

How to Boost Focus ahead of a Writing Session

Today’s guest post is by Rosie O’Neill.

Focus is the thing that makes a writing session fly by in a burst of creative energy, the words flowing and effortless as we get lost in our manuscripts. It’s not something we can turn on and off like a tap, however, and it reacts to all sorts of different personal and environmental circumstances. We focus better, for example, if we’re well rested and don’t have anything pressing to do elsewhere.

Finding our focus ahead of a writing session can be a powerful tool to master as a writer. After all, we can’t always wait for the muse to strike before we sit down to work—it’s just too unpredictable to offer consistent progress. If the muse does exist, it has to find us already working— which means we need to take back control over our own focus.

This mind-set isn’t an easy one to master. With so many things threatening to distract us from our writing, especially if we’re unpublished or working a day job alongside, it can be genuinely hard to make this important creative work a real priority.

Here are some of my favorite tricks to boost your focus ahead of a writing session. Continue Reading…

Ways Writers Can Hack through Distractions

Last week we looked at the “why” of distraction, and how large, looming projects (such as writing a book) can intimidate us to the point of distraction. So let’s look at ways we can hack around (or through) those distractions.

Consider Compartmentalizing Tasks

Here’s another hack I use. I’ll list all those things I want to get done over a week, and they’re usually big projects I’m working on (writing and editing). I know myself well enough to realize that if I work on just one project to the exclusion of all others, I’ll get distracted. I’ll be thinking about that editing job I’m late starting. Or those blog posts I must get written for my blog.

So I’ll allocate compartments of time during a day so that I get some work done on multiple projects. For instance, I might decide to put in two hours on my novel, one hour writing blog posts, one hour to do two email blasts, two hours for a client’s critique, and two hours editing for another client. When the thought pops up “You really have to get that guest post done for Angela,” I can mollify my rippling anxiety by reminding myself: “You’ve put that on Friday’s schedule. So forget about it.” And, guess what? I do! Continue Reading…

Getting to the Core of Your Distractions

We took a look at distractions a bit in some earlier posts, but I want to dig deeper into this topic (hence the photo of the cute rodent in the snow). We all know what things distract us during the day and what our “weaknesses” are. Some of us just can’t stay off social media or check our phones for messages or emails every five minutes. Others get partway through writing a page and notice the floor needs sweeping or the dirty dishes are sitting in the sink.

One prolific best-selling suspense writer I know says she will find every and any reason not to write. She’ll be on her hands and knees scrubbing the stain out of her carpet instead of working on her scene. She looks for excuses not to write.

That’s not because she hates writing. It’s because writing novels is hard! It takes intense focus and concentration, and the effort is often mentally exhausting. And again, if we’re pushing ourselves to write difficult scenes because of a deadline (self-imposed or no) and/or we’re trying to be productive during a low time biologically, we are going to be more easily distracted.

It takes a lot of discipline to stick your butt in your chair, stay there, and be focused so you can crank out those scenes. Continue Reading…