Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Writer's Focus

I have a bunch of things to do today, so I'm going to give some passing comments to a writer's focus.

The world we live in is filled with distractions.  Who can't see and admit to that?

So, it's hard to focus at times.

TV, music, the web!, noisy neighbors, gaming!, DVDs, the web!, Email, cell phones and just regular phones, the web!, friends who think you don't work because you're home writing and creating and just about anything else your creative brain can come up with.

Yep, we're distracted, harassed, annoyed, at times desperately needed - but we need to focus. 

If you're a writer tring to complete a story or trying to meet a deadline, trying to actually pay your bills off the income you create with your writing, then you need to focus and that includes self discipline.

So, you may ask, how do I focus.  Well, it's pretty easy really and at the same time for our noise and gadget addicted society, very difficult.

First, turn off your electronic gadgets.  Not kidding here. Turn them off. Turn off your cell phone and your game, don't let that run at your elbow and tempt you. 

Turn off your cellphone, it'll take messages. And don't even think about answering your land line unless you're expecting a life-changingly important call.  Your machine or service can take messages.  All these things can wait.  None of us really need to know everything that's happening the very second it happens.  That is, we don't need to know if we want to have any hope at all of centering, focusing and accomplishing the work we've set out to do.

If your neighbors are noisy, shut the window and create some white noise, a white noise machine with ocean surf or rain falling maybe, a fan in the background, quiet music maybe; something to take the edge off.
Now, here's a tough one.  If you're writing on a computer and have web access through that computer, unless you're doing research, close your web browser and pretend it doesn't exist while you're writing. I can't count how many times I've slipped and done a bit of shopping when I was supposed to be writing, or took a moment to look at an 'awwww' photo or listen to a video.

And don't leave your Email running so every time a new message comes in it does a little musical dance and you cut what you're doing to check it out. 

It can wait. 

Really, it can. Turn off the sound on your computer, mute it, and cut yourself off temporarily from the web.

Each thing that distracts you may take only a second or a couple of minutes, but believe me it all adds up and that eats up your writing time. You look at your word processing screen and view only emptyness. 

Take your time back. Focus and you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish even in a very short time.

Make it clear to family that this is writing time and unless the house is on fire, you can't be disturbed.  If a neighbor, a friend, or a relative stops over to chat either don't answer the door or explain to them you're working (emphasis on work) and tell them you'll call or get together later.

Don't listen to music unless it's the kind you can put in the background and it actually encourages you to write.  Pay attention.  If it's something you sing along to or makes you want to get up and dance, then maybe it's not the kind of music you need while you're writing.

A lot of this may seem self-evident, and in fact, it is, but we get so wrapped up in our daily habits and electronic assistants that we forget we can put all that away for a while, create a small oasis of calm and get to work. 

All of this is a reminder.  It's easier to see yourself and what things you're doing to sabotage youself if someone is on the sidelines with a small stick to prod you.

Consider this blog post that stick.


  1. Thank you Peggy for the prod we all need from time to time.



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