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Writing Day Focus Hacks
I know I’m not the only writer who has the best intentions when planning out their writing schedule, only for it to go awry. These tips might help you stay on track!
In today’s Writing Wise column, I’m talking about FOCUS.
I’m going out on a limb here, but I assume I’m not the only writer who has the best intentions when planning out their day, only for it to go awry.
When my day gets off track, it’s unfortunately my writing that gets sacrificed. This isn’t the case for everyone, but I know many authors struggle to balance writing and “all the things” that are part of the unavoidable business side of author life - and then throw in life-life on top of that.
We are ALL juggling jobs, families, obligations and adult responsibilities, fur babies—the list goes on. Which means life can easily get in the way of our precious writing time. But there are mindsets and preparations you can make to keep your focus and writing time sacred.
I might be a full-time author, but I only write about 25% of the time. The rest of my workdays are spent scheduling marketing and social media, bookkeeping, inventory and shipping to-dos, updating interiors and retailer platforms, dealing with customer support and tech glitches, cohort meetings and industry webinars, followed by more marketing, meetings, and the list goes on.
So, when I get to write, it’s game time! I need all the help I can get to stay focused without cats bothering me, my email dinging in the background, telemarketers calling me, or the endless slew of sales agents showing up at my door to sell me solar (which I already have - for all that is holy, leave me alone!).
So, when I want to focus on writing, I have a few go-tos that you might find helpful too:
I outline and plan what I need to do next in my story after every writing session. That way, when I sit down to write next time, I'm already set to go - get those plot holes ironed out in between or before you sit down to “focus write”, if you can.
I write in a different room. If I go in my office, I get sidetracked by to-dos and the familiar hustle of my office setting. Sitting in a different room is really helpful to keep me focused on writing. Or going outdoors, too. Writing in the backyard or going to a library or cafe has proven really beneficial to my productivity.
I don’t open social media until I've met my writing goal for the day. Usually, I get out of bed before the house wakes up, do NOT get on my phone, curl up with my laptop while the world is still quiet, and dive in (with coffee or tea, of course).
If I write later in the day, I use Abbie Emmons’s (Free) immersive writing sessions on YouTube as background noise, AND sometimes her writing sprints as a reminder to get me up and moving in between sessions. Refill my water, etc. The trick here is to be sure you don’t get distracted when you step outside of your writing space. The struggle is real! Maybe bring in extra water and snacks instead?
I re-read the last chapter I wrote before I start fresh for the day, even if it was a chapter I wrote the night before. It immerses me in the story again and makes for faster writing.
Shut your phone off, silence it, or leave it in another room, if you can. I'm the worst - I see the screen light up with a notification from the corner of my eye and I'm totally derailed. Don’t fall victim to this - turn your phone over or leave it someplace you can’t see it.
Feel free to try any of these things if you're struggling to find focus and rid yourself of distractions. We all work differently and have varying circumstances, so these ideas might not work for you. But sometimes it’s helpful to have a few “best practices” in your arsenal for when you have to pivot.
I hope that helps!
Until next week, happy writing adventures!