Saturday, June 26, 2010

Stay Focused

It's summertime and it feels like everything else in my life is calling out, saying "Pay attention. Come out and play. Even the creek behind my house is beckoning me to wet hook and catch mess of fish for supper. On days like this, I find myself staring at a blank computer screen, and accusing my characters of going on vacation, leaving me to struggle with story ideas.

Are you like me? You need to write, you have a deadline to meet, and your attention muscle isn't producing.

Here are few ways to keep your mind on writing and (hopefully) boost your output.
1. Beat down boredom -- try writing in a different genre that's in first person rather than third.

2. Talk to your characters -- write out a conversation with a character you've just invented. Ask the characters questions and press until you get answers.

3. Find your quiet center -- find a way to quiet your internal voices. Sit for 60 seconds and listen to the silence.

4. Avoid rewriting -- too often writers get bogged down in rewriting, layering, adding dimensions. Sometimes this leads to 'story neglect.' Get your all your thoughts down. Then rewrite.

5. Celebrate-- when you delete paragraphs from a story, novel or piece of nonfiction you've written, move them to another file. At the end of the week, count up all the words you wrote, used or not, and celebrate your productivity.

6. Make musical choices -- play several types of music and see if one of them is more conducive to your writing focus. try something rousing, something gently soothing, a favorite piece played over and over, or something new and pleasing.

7. Set deadlines. Nothing concentrates the mind like a time limit. Come up with a variety of goals for yourself, such as adhering to a daily or weekly word count, or writing a set number of hours, or a specific number of scenes during each writing session. Try them all out to determine what keeps you most focused and productive.

Words of Wisdom for Writers: Attention is like a muscle. You can strengthen your focusing ability by using it, by not giving in to the urge to jump us and do something else.

1 comment:

mulligangirl said...

Great post, Loretta. #4 is my downfall. And #5 is something I'm going to start implementing. I have that file aleady (mainly because it makes it easier for me to cut sections I would otherwise hesitate to), but I never thought out checking out that word count and celebrating the small success. Happy writing!