I’m finding very quickly that it is sort of impossible to actually focus on editing. I’ve gotten to the point lately where I set aside two hours to edit and only get a half of a chapter done. And by done, I mean I highlighted stuff and gave up.
No wait, I’m pretty sure I deleted half of that chapter, too.
For example, I started this post three hours ago, took a nap, ate some peanut butter, took another nap, and now I’m finally getting back to it. I’m pretty sure I studied somewhere in there, so let’s just blame it on school.
Today I’m going to give you three simple pointers on how to stay focused. And yes, these do work, but I suck at sticking to them so it’s kind of my own fault. After this post, I’m going to take my own advice, too.
Tip One: Set aside time in your daily routine to work on your novel. The most important thing when working on a book is to not feel pressured into writing it. To actually be writing because you love it. So instead of waiting until midnight to start writing when you have to get up at six tomorrow, maybe make it a regular lunch break thing. Maybe you relax for a few hours before you go to sleep by writing.
If you put your writing into your daily routine, then you’re not going to feel pressured. It will get you into the habit of writing everyday, so each time it gets a little easier to let your thoughts pour on the page. This is one of the main reasons that we look back at our finished first drafts and laugh at our opening chapter. At the beginning, we weren’t in the habit of writing, so it shows.
Tip Two: Get rid of distractions. I let those distractions in sometimes in between books or drafts, but never when I’m in the middle of a story. I don’t want to be pulled away from my work because of some kind of mindless entertainment. Where is that going to get me? You all remember when I got stuck on Grey’s Anatomy… I did not get anything done for about a month.
Which brings me to the topic of entertainment outside of writing. At some point along the way, most likely in the editing stage, your book is going to be kind of like work. It’ll feel like work. There’s no way to avoid it. It’s not all fun. So you need to unwind from that work with other things every now and then. Here are a few things that are and aren’t bound for disaster:
Movie? Good. It’s only going to capture you for two hours.
Netflix TV Shows? No. Bad. Nine seasons of how i met your mother later, you won’t even remember what your story was about.
Books? Yes, but under certain conditions. If it is similar to your book, no. You don’t want to accidently steal ideas. If it is long enough to take more than a day or two to read, also a no. If it is part of a series? Definitely not. You have a book to write, remember?
Tip Three: Be comfortable when you go to write. We’re writers. We don’t have to leave the house. So there’s no shame in chilling in pajama pants and snuggies. Don’t forget your writing drink of choice! Me? I’m a hot chocolate kind of girl in the winter but now I’m switching off to orange juice since it’s so hot out. Maybe you want coffee. Or alcohol. Probably not alcohol… actually that would make a lot of sense (but I recommend orange juice…). Maybe peanut butter takes care of everything and you don’t even need a drink.
Don’t resist the comfort of lying in bed all day while you work. Sure, it’s not a healthy option by any means, but you’re going to get a lot better writing done if you are covered in a zillion and one blankets. You can burn off those peanut butter calories later. Or not. It’s not like we writers go outside anyway.
My challenge for you is to try out one of these, even if they sound kind of crazy. I didn’t watch tv from October 15th to December 28th, and I got more done in those few months than in two years of working on my first book. Now it’s been… I don’t even know how long since I’ve watched tv. I don’t miss it enough to actually keep count. If you want, comment below one of your favorite ways to stay focused on your writing:)
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!