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Friday, June 10, 2016

Dear Unfocused Writer

The lovely Diedre mentioned in my Dear Lazy Writer post that her problem is maintaining focus. She requested that I write a post about that. Well, Diedre, ask and you shall receive!

Dear Unfocused Writer,

Keeping focus can be difficult with all of our distractions, daily life, and procrastination. I’ve done a couple of posts about these like: Dear Distracted Writer and Dear Writer Not Writing. Not being able to stay focused can be due in part to not being organized or just not buckling down.

Here are my tips to maintain focus:

1. Create a To-Do List.

Not just a list of big goals or jobs but small, attainable tasks and list them in order of priority, so the most important task is at the top. Keep this list at your desk and look at it every morning. After you complete one task, cross it off and move to the next. But give yourself short breaks every now and then to give yourself a boost.

2. Stay Organized

Keep your desk clean, your papers filed in their proper place where you can easily find them, and your email orderly. I have folders in my email for different correspondences I need to keep. Such as: Editing Clients, Beta Readers, Blog Tour, etc.

3. Use a Calendar

I have a calendar on my desk that I use to keep track of blog posts, guests, and other daily tasks I need to remember. This helps me to focus on what is important for that day. Then I move on to my to-do list.

4. Don’t Procrastinate!

If you don’t do it now, you won’t do it later because you’ll get too comfortable with putting it off. Tell yourself to do it NOW, so you don’t have to do it later.

5. Don’t Multi-Task

Do one job at a time. This allows your brain to engage fully on the task at hand.

6. Give Yourself Goals and a Reward.

Goals like “Finish Chapter One Today” is a motivator. It’s not so big that it’ll drag you down into procrastinating. You’ll want to sit down and get to work. Then when you add a reward like an hour of reading time, a piece of chocolate, or movie night, you’ll really want to complete the task to get your reward.

7. Avoid Distractions

Stay away from the Internet and mute your phone. These things hog your time and attention. SEE: Dear Distracted Writer

8. Try Meditating

Meditating for at least 30 minutes a day can help you shut everything off so you can focus easily on what you need to do.

9. Light Incense or Burn Oil

The scent of cinnamon is brain-boosting and helps the brain focus. I always burn cinnamon oil when I write. Peppermint is also good. Drink peppermint tea to boost brain function, too.

10. Listen to Music or Use Sound-Canceling Headphones

Music like Beethoven and Mozart has been proven to help people focus and to even improve mental performance. If noise disrupts you, invest in sound-canceling headphones to mute whatever is going on around you.

With these tips, I hope you are a more focused writer.

Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

QUESTION: Which of this do you do? Which will you try?

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Janie Junebug said...

I deactivated my Facebook account--note deactivated, not deleted. It will still be there when I want to activate it again. Facebook can be helpful, but it can also be a major time suck. I find that I spend too much time reading email and looking at Facebook if it's available. I can't remember which successful writer said this, but it was something to the effect of if you want to write, then put your butt in a chair and write. I used to know someone who interviewed Anne Tyler, a prolific and successful author. Tyler was married (she is now widowed), and I think she had two young daughters, who must be adults by now. Tyler said that while her children were in school, from Monday to Thursday, she wrote. On Fridays she grocery shopped and cleaned. She joked that her schedule was so strict that if a jelly jar fell on the kitchen floor on Tuesday that she wouldn't pick it up until Friday. Now that's focus.


Chrys Fey said...

@Janie, in another post I say to avoid distractions like Facebook and email. They are huge time sucks. And Anne really was a focused writer. That's amazing.

Sherry Ellis said...

Good tips. I have trouble with distractions. I have so much going on with my life and my kid's lives, that I don't have much time to even get 15 minutes of writing in a day. I'll have to figure out how to work around all that.

Liz A. said...

Oh wow, #10... I know a lot of people like to use music to focus, but for me it does the opposite. Just the other day, I found something I wanted to listen to, and then I tried to do something else at the same time. Disaster. It took me twice the normal time to get the other thing done.

But that's just me...

Chrys Fey said...

@Sherry, check out my post Dear Time-Strapped Writer. http://unicornbell.blogspot.com/2015/03/dear-time-strapped-writer_11.html

@Liz, which is why I suggest using sound-canceling headphones. You should give them a try. :)

Anonymous said...

Todo lists really help keep me focused. I can see what I want to get done and see progress when it's made.

Magic Love Crow said...

Great tips, even for us artists!!!

Chrys Fey said...

@Patricia, I am a to-do list queen. ;)

@Crow, you're right. These tips could help any time of artist. :)

Denise Covey said...

Always good advice from you, Chrys. Universal tips for creativity.

Denise Covey said...

And I so love Janie's comments re Anne Tyler. Wish I had that much focus. No jelly jars would remain on the floor in my house, lol, but that might explain why my books take so long to write! But that's okay...

Romance Reader said...

Excellent tips Chrys! Thanks!

diedre Knight said...

I practice seven out of ten on your excellent list, lady Chrys! Now, where did I put my list? Something new I've tried of late is to schedule WIP readings for myself (since I have three in progress) and the characters who shout the loudest get a chapter (or three) that day. However, it's much more productive to do it more than once a month!
I loved the schedule Anne Tyler had! Thank you, Janie for sharing!
And thank you, Chrys for the mention and your most helpful list! Have a pleasant weekend and productive week ahead :-)

Darla M Sands said...

I have a habit of multitasking. Thank you for the tips! These are all excellent.

Chrys Fey said...

@Denise, I'm too OCD to leave a smashed jelly jar on my floor. Haha

@Reader, thanks!

@Deidre, your WIP readings is a great idea. I was hoping my list would help you more. I guess it all comes down to pushing yourself.

@Darla, you're welcome. :)