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Some of us are better at focusing on things. Whether it’s important life decisions or what to watch, they usually can get it done with minimal to no distractions. But everyone gets distracted once in a while, especially while writing. I know I do. A boring scene, too long conversation, or simply just an off day where you hate what you have completely.
It happens to us all eventually. So here are five tips that can help keep you focused on writing. It might not make that scene more exciting or that conversation speed up, but every word down is another inch closer to your goal.
1. Set a timer.
Setting a length of time to sit down and do nothing but write is fairly helpful. Don’t stress about misspelled words or punctuation. Set the timer for however long you want (twenty minutes usually works for me) and just put down some words.
Once the timer’s done, go back and correct any mistakes you made. The plus side of setting a timer is that you also speed up your typing, which is always a bonus.
2. Wear earbuds or headphones to help block out noise.
Cars outside, the dog barking across the street, karaoke. Writing to music can be helpful, so can other noises, but when trying to focus on something it’s more of a hindrance than a help. Wear earbuds or headphones with the music off. It help block out the quiet noises and muffles the louder ones.
Going into a quiet room works too! With little noise to draw your attention, you can focus better on the words in front of you.
3. Turn off the phone and TV.
A notification comes through and we check it out then realize we haven’t checked out Instagram or Twitter in a while. Or maybe our favorite TV show is having a marathon. Either way, our attention is drawn away from writing and split between whatever it is that drew us away. Turning your phone off isn’t completely necessary, though. Simply placing it on silently or out of sight works just as well with less chance of not getting notified if an emery comes up.
If you enjoy watching TV while writing then maybe turn the volume down until it’s more of a quiet buzz and pick something you aren’t that interested in. If you do that then it won’t draw your attention away nearly as much. Why watch something you hate?
4. Set aside a time to write.
Writing all day everyday is a quick way to burn out. Setting a time frame helps keep you on track without burnout. For example, write for an hour after dinner then do something else. Walk the dog, watch a TV show, catch up on the news. Do something before going back to your work. This helps give your mind a break from "writing mode" and gives your body a bit of time to stretch.
You won’t feel like you need to divide your time or feel terrible if you didn’t meet whatever goals you set out for yourself that day. Win win.
5. Write whenever you can, not when you feel like it.
Let’s be honest. Writing whenever we feel like it is nice but not always terribly reliable. And that’s okay. We don’t always feel like grocery shopping or doing laundry. But we get it done whenever it needs doing. Looking at writing like this can be helpful but it does lose it’s appeal after a while. Write whenever you can instead.
Twenty minutes here, five minutes there, an hour before dinner than another twenty before bed. One day you’ll look back and realize how much you actually got done in short snippets throughout the day!
Remember though, everyone gets distracted. You aren’t alone in this and sometimes we just need a bit of help. Go out there and be great. Write the next best seller or just write for yourself. Either way, one day you’ll look back and surprise yourself with how far you’ve come and that day will be a beautiful one indeed.