Now that the Christmas countdown is well underway, it can be a difficult time to stay focused on your writing and to not become distracted by all the festivities.
So, to hopefully inspire other writers, we’ve spoken with 10 bestselling authors and bloggers to find out their top tips for staying focused and motivated when writing, no matter what time of the year it is.
1. Create a place where you can just write.
Cassandra, Product Marketing Manager for Rival IQ, says having a specific place where you just write helps you stay focused;
”Create a place for you to write. A quiet secluded space is always nice, but it’s not the only way. Having a spot to block out the world is the best – even if it’s just a glorified closet.
2. Listen to ‘study music’ whilst writing.
Steve Robertson, currently working on a copy writing and contest writing start-up at prizewriting.com, says ‘study music’ helps to keep you going when writing;
”I only recently discovered the magic of ‘study music,’ the various relaxing sounds available on YouTube that transform any environment into a upscale massage studio.
The barrage of soothing tones work much better than noise-cancelling headphones or white noise speakers, whether used with headphones or on speakers.”
3. Surrender, momentarily, to whatever is distracting you.
Julia Kline, bestselling author, gave us some interesting advice for when you feel distracted whilst trying to write;
”Your distractions are caused by your emotions – the inner turmoil you’re feeling that’s pulling you away from whatever you’re trying to accomplish.
The best way to stay focused on your writing is to surrender momentarily to whatever is distracting you:
- Do a brain dump. Write down all the to-do’s running through your brain. Even if you’ve got another to-do list somewhere else, writing it all down *again* effectively empties it out of your brain;
- Maybe there’s something that’s more worrisome than it is distracting? Again, write about it. Specifically, and point by point. Writing your fears on paper – not just thinking about them – is like turning on the light switch to assure a child there’s no monsters;
- If all else fails, write about the fact that you’re distracted and unfocused: I’m distracted and unfocused. I’m sitting here in my lovely shed, which should be inspiring words to flow from my pen, but I’m blank. I’m numb. Prompt yourself to continue writing whatever silly words come out of your head … and before you know it you’ll actually be writing.”
4. Plan dedicated writing time daily.
Carrie Aulenbacher, bestselling author, discussed with us the importance of planning dedicated writing time daily;
”Make a dedicated writing time daily that you must stick to all year long. If it is a daily habit to start your day with an hour of writing, then that can turn into a year-round habit that not even Christmas can shake.
Look at your most productive time of day and see how you might be able to shift your schedule to even find a half hour a day to stop obsessing about the never ending ‘to-do’ list. Write instead.
For those who are constantly interrupting or just always ‘around’, finding a quiet place sounds nice, but isn’t always viable. If that half hour a day is when you CAN write but are NOT alone, pick a YouTube video of soft sounds (waves, harp music, white noise, etc) and try to drown the other person out while you write.
Explain to them your set time limit and ask for respect as you work. Might take some time to train those you live with, but it’s worth a try!”
5. Always carry a little notebook with you.
Will Ruff, Writer & Web Strategist, says it can help to always carry a little notebook with you for surges of inspiration;
”Carry a little notebook with you at all times, and take notes about the holidays.
Even if you’re not writing about something to do with the holidays writing is about animating a scene and what better way to exercise that muscle than to tell a story about the madness of the holidays?”
6. Find a way to de-stress and become calm before you begin writing.
Tanya Detrik, copywriter/blogger and author, discussed with us the importance of feeling calm before you begin writing for a productive session, and how she finds zen;
”Before I get going, I take a walk (alone) because walking helps me de-stress and helps ideas and inspiration flow.
If there are too many distractions, I can go write in the library if it’s open. When my concentration wanes I listen to music for concentration.”
7. Make your writing plans festive (if you’re writing near Christmas).
Jenny Kile, writer for Mysterious Writings, chatted with us about embedding the festivities into your writing rather than ignoring it;
”Create a ‘Countdown to Christmas’ schedule. Plan to write at times you know are the quietest, and stick to it. Like an advert calendar, be sure to reward yourself with a little something after each ‘day’s completed task’. (whatever treat you would enjoy).
Having that there is like a pat on the back recognizing the season might be hectic, but you’ve got this!”
8. If you’re distracted by the internet, try writing with just paper and pen or on a typewriter.
Carey Heywood, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author, discussed with us how cutting the internet out can help with staying focused on the writing and not becoming distracted;
”Before I start writing, I make a list of my brain clutter. My list might read, reply to Erin’s email, book hotel for NY, order paperbacks, get Eric a birthday present, clean the litter box, and buy milk.
By clearing my head of the errant thoughts that can distract me, I am able to focus on my work. My other main distraction is the Internet. To combat this, I write on an old school word processor. It’s my favorite writing tool. Since using it to get online isn’t an option, I’ve eliminated this distraction.”
9. Write at a time when they’re naturally less distractions around you.
Nihar Suthar, international author, says it’s important to find time during the day when there will be naturally less distractions around you so you can just focus on your writing;
”My ideal tip for writing is simple. You should write when there are the least amount of things that can distract you. I am a young millennial author, so for me, this time is early morning. Most of my friends and peers in my age group stay up late and don’t wake up super early.
However, I wake up at 5:30 and write for an hour or two, because everybody I know is sleeping…so, there are no distractions. You can’t get distracted if there are no distractions around you. It’s a smart way to write and make positive progress.”
10. Close down everything before starting to write.
Varda Meyers Epstein, Editor and Blogger at Kars4Kids, offers her tips on shutting down all social media tabs and online distractions before beginning to write;
”Close all social media. It’s impossible to concentrate on writing (or anything else!) when you’re looking at comments and notifications on Facebook, for instance.
If you have no other way of getting your head clear and bringing yourself to the task, try writing stream of conscious for ten to fifteen minutes. Something in there is bound to get you going.”
Share your tips with us and other writers in the comments below.