How to write and stay focused
I’m not an expert but I do have a few tricks that work well for me.
- I talk and talk about how important music is to me and it is. But even more than that, it truly drives me forward, keeps me motivated and begs me to write. Try creating a playlist of your favorite music and see if it works for you. Many people write in total silence, some write to the sounds of the TV in the background. Whatever works for you, go with it and stick with it.
- Create some type of reasonable time to write everyday without distraction. I think this is the hardest one for me. If you can commit only one hour here and there, so be it. There are times when I can literally write for hours without stopping. There are other times when I am lucky to get five minutes in with out someone or something disturbing me. So try as best as you can to be flexible with what time you can commit but be sure to commit.
- Find a good place to write. A peaceful place, an inspiring one, a quiet nook, at your desk….the list goes on. It needs to be a place just for you, just for your writing. A place you can leave your notes, your laptop, your ideas, etc… and come back to find them how you left them. I’ve found that if I can leave things exactly as they are and in one frame of mind, I can come back and find that frame of mind again.
- Give yourself a break. If you find yourself at a road block, getting frustrated or overwhelmed, put everything down and walk away. That’s right, walk away. There is no sense in banging your head against the wall. It won’t help. Sometimes all you need is to gain a little perspective. I think one of the most difficult things about writing a book is how absorbing it can get and how all-consuming it is at times, which leads to my next point.
- Clear your head. I don’t mean put your things down and walk away. I mean get outside, go to the gym, do something physical to clear your mind and manage your thoughts. When I began my book, I had so many thoughts and ideas it was almost impossible to stay focused. I would wake up in the middle of the night to write things down. Craziness. I tried walking, dancing, my usual activities but they didn’t work. They weren’t enough. So I began running (something I’ve always hated) and it worked. I was amazed at how well it worked. My thoughts organized themselves, more ideas flooded to the surface and things made sense again. Now I run 3 miles almost everyday. When I don’t run, things get complicated again. So find something that gets the energy out, the frustration out and clears your head. Whatever works for you, go with it.
- Write something else. This one, not everyone will agree with but for me, it can help. I am in the middle of writing a few books and although I am concentrating almost entirely on Legend right now, I do find myself going back to work on the others. At times when nothing else works, no matter how far I run, or how many times I get up and walk away, I am still in a jumbled frame of mind. When this happens, I work on something else. There is nothing like writing something entirely different to take your mind away from what is driving you crazy.
- Last but not least. Stop. Put the laptop down. Put the notebook down. Take a break. Sometimes, especially when editing for me, you need to leave it alone. When I read the same chapter 3 times, 5 times, it begins to sound like crap. No matter if it is or if it isn’t. When your words begin to scramble and nothing sounds right, you’ve overdone it and you need to leave it alone and regain your perspective. That could take a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Everyone hears the stories of how so and so wrote their book in three months. Super. And…? What does that really mean? It doesn’t mean anything. If you can write a quality piece of work in three months, go for it. If the rest of us take a year or five, that’s great too. The goal is to be proud of what you’ve created. There is no time-table (unless of course you’re under a deadline), so take your time, breathe and focus. You’ll get there and so will I.