As a writer, you know there’s a big difference between writing sessions when the words flow and time flies and you feel so in the zone that you can’t imagine not writing so efficiently in the future, and…the other times. Those are the times you find yourself making up every excuse in the book to avoid writing. This makes no sense because you like writing, right? Except when it’s hard and you don’t know what to say and it feels pointless. What if there was a way to boost your focus while writing? If you could focus more, the time you got to write would be much more enjoyable and productive. Read on to find out how to take control of your writing time.
Don’t Wait for the Muse
If you’re unpublished, have a job, and have a family or partner, you don’t have the luxury of waiting for the muse to appear. You’ve got too much on your plate to rely on superstition. That being said, there’s no doubt that sometimes the words come easier than at other times. The question is how to increase your ability to work well. Step one is to forget about the muse. She’s a luxury item for single, independently wealthy people. If that’s not you, it’s easier to plan to rely on yourself. Taking luck off the table is an easy way to make writing easier.
Listen to Mom
Remember the classic advice about how to focus on school or homework better? You know, eat your Wheaties, go to the library (aka, a quiet place with few distractions), get your sleep, and carve out time every day for it? Well, good advice sounds like a cliché when it’s repeated again and again. Of course, it gets repeated because it’s true. If you want to do something that requires a lot of brain power (i.e., writing), make sure you’re physically and mentally ready to work.
Optimize the Workspace
If you were setting up a homework space for your child, you’d probably find somewhere that limited distractions and encouraged focus. What would that look like? Probably somewhere without a TV. You’d likely remove the phone or iPad or other unnecessary electronics. You’d also make sure it was stocked with work materials: computer, paper, pens, books, etc. You’re no different. Think about where you work the best. Is it in the kitchen when the family is gone? Is it in your office with the door closed? Is it in a coffee shop with the ambient noise of strangers in the background? Even if you can’t get eight hours to yourself, you’ll want to use the time you have wisely. Deciding on the environment that most allows you to focus is key. And, like you would with a child, insist that distractions are minimized. Turn off notifications on your phone. Disable the internet, if you must. Close the door. The better your workspace is prepped for your success, the more successful you’ll be.
Instead of Multi-Tasking, Try Single-Tasking
Multitasking sounds efficient, but it’s not. It might be a necessity sometimes, but it’s not helpful for writing. Writing takes a lot of brain cells, and you can’t waste them also emailing or doing laundry or otherwise not putting the whole of your effort into writing. Just a like child newly back in school after a long summer break, at first it’s hard to dig in and focus. That’s because focus is a habit that gets easier after you do it again and again. If you have a hard time staying on task, carve time for working on your novel—and only working on your novel—for, say, twenty minutes a day. It might not sound like enough, but if you put your focus onto that one task for long enough, before long you’ll get to The End.