If you struggle with shutting down the search engines and writing, this post is for you.
By Libby Caruso
Co-founder of The Author Website
Author of Kindle Vella Serial, Trium: A Secret Society
It’s easy to fall into rabbit holes filled with interesting new details, potential plot lines, character names (reddit.com/r/namenerds anyone?), poisons, and every other detail that brings stories depth. But, these fun tidbits are often distractions that can leave us writers with detailed-packed, unfinished manuscripts.
Focused writing gives you the tools you need to effectively write while giving you the freedom to dream, search, and head deep into all the weirdness the Internet holds.
We’ve compiled some tips to help you get focused on your craft.
Block out creating time.
Note, I said creating time, not writing time. Writing is a process. It’s not all words on pages. It often requires space to dream, search, pin, chat, walk, er- caffeinate, or whatever else gets your creativity flowing.
Now for the asterisk, make this block strictly writing time if you are on a time crunch. Everyone else, make this at least a 2.5-hour chunk.
Prep. If you cannot stay off the Internet, we have some options.
Have a loved one temporarily change the wifi password. Welcome to 1992.
Turn on an Internet blocker that will lock you out of your favorite website for a specific time.
Write by hand.
Write by typewriter.
No one cares how you wrote your story. Readers care about the content. Don’t feel any shame if you’re focus process isn’t rooted in this millennia. We don’t judge here.
Next, change your physical associations.
Change where you write. Try a library or a different chair in your living space, maybe a coffee shop, or a friend’s house. The options are endless.
Change the program you write in. Try Note Pad or a text editor tool that strips away all unnecessary tools if you write in Word. A streamlined program will make it easier to only focus on words. If you can’t change the writing program, try a different font. Some authors swear that writing in comic sans makes them better writers (hand over heart).
Put on a scarf or hat or sweater or headphones or something that you only
associate with writing. Train yourself, so when you’re wearing your fabulous [WHATEVER], you’re writing.
Creating these new rituals helps you prioritize and differentiate your actions and give you the space to create freely.
Write down everything you love to do instead of writing. What helps make your creative process work? Narrow it down to one or two actives.
Now, instead of starting your creative sessions with your favorite time suck actives, you’re going to end your creative sessions with your favorite Internet pastimes as a reward for your hard work.*
Flipping your session activities can help you get more writing done and help you prepare for your next writing session.
*We understand that your choice beverage may be a prerequisite to create. We do not judge as long as it’s not some fancy pour-over that takes 40 minutes of your precious creative time. In that case, save your fancy drink until the end.
It’s time for sprints. For many of us, focus is much easier to come by when we set goals, have deadlines, see progress, and have rewards planned (see tip three).
Much like actually running, writing sprints requires us to build up our stamina, shed our ego, and turn off the parts of us that say it’s impossible.
For your first focused writing sessions, we challenge you to do three writing sprints. Each sprint needs to be at least 13 minutes. Why 13? A quarter of an hour is a long time when you’re in a writing funk, and 10 minutes isn’t long enough. 13 minutes is just right.
Yes, we know it’s only 39 minutes out of the 150 you’ve budgeted. It’s intentional.
Use some of your time to plot. Write out key points you want to accomplish in your sprints. Make these quick bullets. Then get your timer ready and start!
Once you get started, you may begin writing and get so in the groove that you cannot believe an hour has passed. Or, you may struggle to get through your 13 minutes. It’s okay to tweak your process along the way, as long as you’re working toward your goal.
As you get better at quick plotting and sprinting, add in more sprints. Keep increasing your sprints until you get to a place where you feel you’re hitting your word count goals without sacrificing quality.
The final tip
Trust yourself and believe in your story and your ability to write your story. We
can give you tips and tricks to help you focus and get words on the page, but only you know what you’re trying to achieve at the end of the day, and it’s not up for us to judge.
Find these tips helpful? Please share on Pinterest!