As a writer it’s really important that I’m able to focus. When I need to. At will. And to be honest, that’s not always easy. For a start I have a very active imagination, and at any moment it can catch me unawares and transport me somewhere I’m not supposed to be at that particular time. Secondly, my head is full of ideas and it’s too easy to get distracted by exploring them when I’m supposed to be writing about something entirely different. And finally, Facebook.
When I need to focus, there are a few strategies that I use to keep me on track.
Note and Park
Like many people, I write down my goals at the beginning of the week, and then each day figure out what tasks are going to be part of that day’s activities. As well as my list of what needs to get done, however, I also have space to note down any ideas that come to me, which I can then park until I’ve got time to concentrate properly on them. I also have a special notebook to note down anything that’s crept into my imagination by way of a scene or character realisation for my novel.
I find that giving myself a time limit focuses my mind on the task at hand. This is especially true for blogging. If I give myself 30 minutes to write a post, then I’m not going to have time to do anything other than write. And unless have to be somewhere else at the end of that time, I’m not bothered if I go over it: just setting that limit helps to kickstart the focus I need.
If I’m procrastinating, or telling myself that I don’t know what to write, writing always solves the problem. Whether it’s jotting down some questions on a bit of paper, or having a conversation with myself in writing on the computer. In the same way that dust breeds dust, writing breeds writing.
Putting on some background noise can really help me concentrate. Coffitivity is great, because it’s the background noise of a cafe, and it fools my brain into thinking that I’m out and about, rather than in my study at home. Music is also helpful at times. What I find though, is that I need it to be either classical music, or a playlist of songs I’m familiar with, otherwise I find it more distracting.
Once I’m immersed in a particular writing task, it’s easier to stay there. So finding ways of getting into the right mindset is key. Whether that’s mind mapping my ideas, or reading up on a subject. When I started writing my novel, I stuck some wallpaper lining paper on the wall of our spare room, and mapped out the storyline and the main characters. So whenever I’m struggling to find focus to write my novel, I go in there, take a point in the storyline or a character, and get back into the right mindset by exploring a lot of ‘what ifs’ about that. I also find telling myself that ‘this will be easy’ helps!
Recently I came across an article all about how to improve your concentration on the Health Ambition website. They have a lot of interesting ideas, so I thought I’d share the article with you: you can access it by clicking on the link below.
What are your favourite ways of finding focus? Share them in the comments below 🙂