Regardless of what you’ve heard, writing is easy. It’s nothing more than expressing your thoughts in a way others can relate to.
Even so, thousands of articles, blogs and books that could greatly benefit others go unwritten every day. The cause of this tragedy isn’t that it’s difficult to write but that it’s difficult not to become distracted whilst doing so.
We live in a busy world with millions of voices clamoring for our attention.
Here’s seven things I’ve found to be greatly effective in keeping focused when writing.
Stay off the internet
When it’s time to get your thoughts down on paper, turn the internet off and unplug the box so you’re not tempted to turn it on again until you’re done. Nothing can be more distracting than social media and emails, especially if you have your notifications turned on.
Use writing programs that have minimal bells and whistles
Although the fabulous features on Microsoft Word and OpenOffice can help you to develop a flawless document, they’re nothing but time wasters during the writing phase. It’s so easy to spend a few minutes writing a paragraph followed by a few hours of playing with formatting, spell checking and yes, even word counting. Before you know it, the day has passed and you’ve written a couple of pages if you’re lucky.
I suggest using Writeroom if you’re a Mac person and DarkRoom if you use a PC. Both programs negate the background, so your text stands out.
Have your research done and on notes
The one argument I always hear when I suggest turning off the internet is, “I need the internet for research.”
Whilst I don’t dispute the validity of this claim, I know how it ends and so do you.
You get on to research an event that took place in 1923 and you find out that the event you’re researching is just one of the many interesting events that took place that year. An hour later, you’re still reading about them all. Interesting? Yes. Relevant to your writing? No!
Research and take notes prior to writing your piece. Not only will this make your actual writing time more productive but it will make you less likely to squirrel around whilst collecting data. You do have a message to get out after all.
Wear reading glasses whether you need them or not
Reading glasses work like blinders by limiting your peripheral vision and keeping your eyes focused to a short range. In addition, they add to your comfort by allowing you to sit further back from your computer screen. This reduces the glare and makes it easier to read the small words without straining your eyes.
Wear earphones whether you write while listening to music or not
Some people write really well whilst listening to music. Not me. If there’s words, I’ll sing along and if there’s not, I’ll hum. Either way, no writing will be done.
However, I’ve found earphones to be a great tool. When I have earphones in, people are far less likely to approach me. In addition, earphones dim background noises, allowing me to focus on my text rather than what’s going on around me.
So, whether you plug into a source, or simply make it appear as if you have, wear earphones.
Let it be known that you’re not to be disturbed
Whether you’re writing in a room full of people or a dark, dank cell for one, it’s important the only input you have is your own. Let your friends and relatives know that you’re only to be spoken to if there’s an emergency situation. Otherwise, you absolutely must not be disturbed.
Take periodic tech free breaks
When you’ve written for a fair amount of time, generally about an hour, take a 15-minute break. No, don’t plug in the box, turn on the internet, check your emails and watch a quick Youtube video. These actions will only pull you in. Use these breaks to stretch, use the bathroom and clear your head.
Let's keep in touch
We send out weekly(ish) newsletters and we'd love to have you on our mailing list. Just enter your details and hit subscribe.
As a thank you, we'll send you a free copy of How to Self Publish Your Book roadmap.