Some Handy Tips for Focused Writing

Today’s post is a shorter one – I have a lot of writing to do! So I figure I’ll stay on theme and discussed a few writing tips I have accumulated over the years. I have often can trouble focusing when I’m writing. I think every writer does – sometimes you need to focus and you literally can’t. It can be hard to slip into, to borrow the colloquialism, “the zone.” So I’m going to share a few tips that I have found very useful when I’m writing, particularly when I’m writing fiction. Note – these are in no particluar order! I believe them all to be of great importance, at least personally.

1. Minimize Distractions

When you’re writing, it’s easy to get caught up in the world around you. Your phone’s buzzing, your friend wants to get your attention, video games are beckoning, books are calling, other responsibilities are imminently waiting on the horizon… it can be very difficult to focus in today’s world of instant gratification and communication, especially when you’re doing something such as writing. Therefore, a good strategy to use when you’re sitting down to start writing is to make sure that other distractions are out of the way. If your phone is distracting you, turn it off, or silence it and put it out of reach. Go out of communication range. I personally don’t get distracted by the occasional text while I am writing, but if you do, remove that distraction so that it doesn’t cause you problems. If there are people around you who are likely to distract you or talk to you, or if you simply don’t work well in a context where there are other people in the room, isolate yourself. Get somewhere more private that you can work on your story or your essay or whatever you may need to write. If there are other responsibilities that are making it difficult to focus, there is an easy solution: put writing on the bottom of your to-do list. Now, when I say this, I don’t mean to sideline it completely. Instead, take care of all of your more pressing immidiate responsibilities first so that you can focus on writing completely rather than being distracted by what you have to do for homework or something that needs to be done around the house.

2. Music

This is something I find VERY valuable. The right music, at least for me, can make all of the difference between a scatterbrained writing session and a focused one. Emphasis on “the right music.” If music doesn’t work for you, then obviously don’t worry about it. But if you do enjoy listening to music while writing, or have never tried it, see if you can figure out what kind of music suits you the best. For me, when I am doing any kind of homework, I listen to soft instrumental or lyrical with a very soft and melodic voice, rhythm and instrumentation. When I’m writing, I usually run a playlist that is a combination of instrumental and handpicked lyrical songs. Usually the lyrical songs either have a driving rhythm and intense beat or are the same ones I use for homework. Music also can be a way to isolate yourself – throw on a good pair of headphones, and suddenly you can feel like you’re alone, even in a crowd, and it’s just you and the paper or the keyboard.

3. Comfort

I’m not sure if this one is universal, but it certainly is for me. If I’m sitting down to write, I want to be in a comfortable setup. Cozy clothes, maybe in a blanket, with my computer in an optimal position for me to either sit relaxedly or upright if I’m writing something that I’m particularly engaged in. Comfort is key for me – if my clothes are uncomfortable or if I’m too hot/cold it gets difficult to concentrate. My writing center should be one of maximum comfort in order to make sure that I am giving whatever I am writing my best.

4. Goals

This might be the most important one out of the four I’ve mentioned, and it is thus one of the most significant things in this article – set realistic goals for yourself. When you sit down to write, try and give yourself a word/page goal that you want to meant. Sit down and say “Alright. Ten pages in this sitting – let’s go.” That gives you somewhere to reach. Something that I’ve learned also in goal setting is to set them in the middle. Don’t set them too high, don’t set them too low. Then, you likely won’t miss your goals, and if you surpass them you’ll feel great about yourself and about your writing session. 

Those are some of the biggest concentration tools I can share with you, and how I implement them during a writing session. I’ve got some work to do, so I’m going to wrap this up here, but feel free to ask more specific questions about any of these or anything else below!

Have a wonderful day.

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One thought on “Some Handy Tips for Focused Writing

  1. Wonderful ideas. For me, though, it has to be quiet. Even soft music can be a distraction, though I know many people, including you, who find music conducive to concentration. The idea of getting your other responsibilities done is an astute observation. Though many people don’t realize it, the underlying, subliminal tugging by “things” to do can not only interfere with concentration, but reduce the quality of the final product.
    May I add one more tip? Editing! Writing is often a process, and even the most accomplished author/writer needs to edit. The important thing to remember is that as you complete your the first version of your piece (story, essay, etc.,) see it as just that: a first “draft.” I have observed that many people see their writing as complete the first time they attempt a writing project. This mind-set can set any writer back when they realize that edits need to be made. The author needs to see editing as only making a good piece better. If the sense of completion sets in after the last punctuation mark, the author may close his/her mind to ideas that will only improve the piece. At some point, however, the editing needs to stop. In gifted writers, such as yourself, edits can go on for a long time, (especially if the piece is long and/or being read by multiple editors) because your active mind can always come up with literary enhancements. This can actually work against the author, negating the closure that all writers need, at some point. So, for writers reading this blog, these ideas should be a great help in securing quality writing sessions. We all look forward to future interesting and compelling writing from the “Thinker in Space.”

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