Whether you’re writing a blog post or a book, staying focused during a writing session is not easy. It is easy to check this and check that, frittering away valuable writing time. Most of us have other responsibilities, so it matters how you use the time you have to write.
Prioritize your projects or steps within a project. Sometimes it’s easy to get sidetracked with less important projects or even aspects of a project and use all your writing time for that. I can have this problem when I’m having issues with my main WIP or I’m facing a more difficult/tedious part of my project. Keeping priorities straight and your goals in front of you, and reminding yourself of those frequently, will help keep you focused.
Idea: Write down your goals and the steps to reach them and keep them nearby when it’s time to write.
Plan what you’re working on ahead of time. Another time waster is figuring out what to write. Maybe you’re juggling multiple projects or just deciding what scene to work on next. Deciding ahead of time will let you get to work immediately so you use the entire time for actual writing. I usually decide the day before what I’m working on.
Idea: At the end of each writing session, take a few minutes to choose what you’ll write during the next session and make a note of it so you won’t forget.
Remove as many distractions as possible. If you have a place free of distractions, awesome. If not, pick your biggest problem and try to eliminate it. For example, maybe it’s checking email. Putting your phone out of sight or switching off the Internet on your computer while writing may help. Some writers like to take their work to coffee shops or parks. Whatever helps you focus, go for it.
Idea: If you don’t know what your biggest distraction is, spend one writing session analyzing how often you’re not writing (or thinking about what to write), and what activities are grabbing your attention. Then decide how best to remove those distractions, or tone them down.
Set a timer while you write. Finally, setting a timer can get you and keep you moving. Set it for as long as you have to write, or in shorter increments. I’m partial to 20 minute segments. I challenge myself to write as much as possible in that time. It often gets me moving and I’m on a roll beyond the timer. Other times, I keep setting it to keep momentum.
Idea: Set goals for how much you’re going to write within a given time-frame. For instance, write half of a scene in 20 minutes.
All writers need focus. Experiment to find what methods work for you, and stick with them. Most importantly, keep writing!