Tips and Tricks: Focus

I have a big problem and that is focusing on something. I love writing, editing even--the whole process, it's just getting down to business and staying focused is where I face the challenge. 

Research perspective and you'll find some useful info, just don't go crazy. Get it into your subconscious and figure out what works best for you. Like schooling, too much can mess you up. Even seasoned writers can learn a few things. It just seems like they know it already because they've gone through the trail and error. Though, something changes, a new schedule, new challenges and you may find yourself having to switch it all up. So go with what works for you. 

Closing the door or going somewhere where no one can disturb you may be hard at times when life presses for your attention, but with a little foresight it doesn't have to be a guilt inducing chore. Now if only I can listen to my own advice more often. 

Then there are the times that I loose myself in the work and will be so deep in thought that I get lost in this vortex writing where time speeds up and I am in another world. In times like this I can be jarred out of this state rather painfully. It feels sort of like those cheap scares B rated horror movies sometimes go for. When I'm sucked from this state of mind, it's hard to get back to it. It hurts. It sort of reminds me of the parallel dimensions in Stephen King's Dark Tower stories. 

And there will always be something that needs your attention: bills, cooking, the children/child, eating. But there is always time to write, as well. So negotiate. Make sure all important things are taken care of: you know the kids, eating etc. Then hide somewhere, cut yourself off from the world, and get to it. Let everyone know you need some time to work. Let your significant other know how to reach you in an emergency, and only for an emergency. 

So you have the space, now you need to get up the will to open the pages and actually work on the story. Because you can slice out a section of time for this, but actually doing it is the hard part. See, sometimes I sit down and I'll go, "Wow, got this time, this is nice. Hmmm, a Kindle, oh, my Android. I wonder what's happening in the news." And away you go, then when you realized, "Wow, I've wasted all this time and now I only have fifteen minutes left," you have this sinking feeling. You don't know when you'll get a chance to write again. You've made all the negotiations and fell through on your part. Okay, it's over, next time you will do better. 

It's important to get rid of all distractions. Everything. Unless you know for a fact that you can occasionally check an email and get right back into it, shut it off. Only have your story out, your Word open, a pen to edit, a ready printer. That's it. Oh, and your music player of choice. 

Music: This can help you disconnect from the world and there are other benefits. If it distracts, though, shut it off. 

Emails and texts: if you can handle it, leave them on. If not, shut down your phone, and don't open a web browser. In fact, if you have a PC that doesn't have internet connection, better. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Gmail are very distracting and should be put on hold while you work. One thing leads to another and before you know it you'll be down to that last fifteen minutes of your session. And I can tell you from experience that once you are unfocused, it can be very difficult to get in the world you are creating once again. 

Have a physical place: It can help keep you away from distractions. Mentally you'll know it's time to get to business. If you're too comfortable, (like in bed, or on a couch) then you won't likely get to your writing, you will become lazy. A few winks can turn into a lot more than you think. Then nothing gets done. 

Remember, this is a business. It's work. And as you do it more exclusively, you have to treat it as such. Your writing will be bringing in revenue that has to pay editors and receptionists and printer and legal and IT. They are counting on you, well, not ALL on you, but you get the point. And if you aren't published yet, you'll never get there with bad work practices. 

Sometimes it hurts to start, and you feel like you can't do it--why even bother, you can get to it tomorrow, right? But like Leo Babauta says in his zen habits blog, writers put things off.

The most important thing to remember is it will happen, but you have to give it a chance and you have to keep at it. The hardest part is starting. 

Here are some links that may help. 

www.zenhabits.net/resistance/ 
www.dailywritingtips.com/6-tips-for-focusing-when-writing/
www.gigaom.com/2009/09/05/how-i-work-in-chunks/ 


WCM

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