A Simple Trick to Staying Focused on Your Writing Work

A Simple Trick to Staying Focused on Your Writing Work

A Simple Trick to Staying Focused on Your Writing Work
Photo by Rin Johnson

A Simple Trick to Staying Focused on Your Writing Work

Do you have trouble staying focused? Do you get distracted easily by your emotions or desires? Do you sit down to write, pull up your word processor, write a few words or sentences, and then get the urge to go check your email or social media?

That happens to me all the time. Not because I don't enjoy writing or I get bored. There's something about receiving an email or an instant message that makes us feel like it's validating our existence.

Don't we feel special when someone talks to us? So, when we feel good every time someone sends us a message, the desire to check for messages gets reinforced.

Or maybe you get up to grab a snack. You get back to your desk and realize a trip to the bathroom would be a good idea. Then you grab yourself a cup of coffee, finally making it back to your desk 20 minutes (or more!) later. This is procrastination. So is that constant desire to check messages.

It's also called "wasting time".

We have goals that we want to achieve. Maybe we even have a schedule to help us meet them. But when it comes right down to it, we'll search high and low for something else to do. Again, not because we don't enjoy it or we're bored.

Maybe it's because we don't know what success feels like or we're worried that we will be judged once our writing work is done. If we never finish it and never send it out, everything is all good (except for our writing career).

Allowing this scenario to continue will only keep you from writing and achieving your writing dreams. The same goes for any business. If you don't do the things that will lead to a profitable business, you're not in business.

Writing as a career is a business. Whether you like it or not, if you want to sell your work, you need to actually complete it and send it out. There's no time for self-doubt and procrastination.

What it takes is discipline and realizing that you, as the CEO of your writing business, are in charge of your writing career. You don't have anyone else (i.e., a boss) to keep you on track of your writing goals. You must take the role of "boss" and make yourself do the things you need to do to be successful in your business.

Once you get into the mindset of a serious entrepreneur, you start to realize what areas you need to improve. Time management is key, and that's where disciplining yourself to stay focused on your writing work and not allowing yourself to get distracted by your emotions or desires comes in.

Learn to stop yourself when your hands reach for the mouse to check your email. When something is bothering you, learn to push the thoughts aside. Tell yourself that you are not going to focus on that right now, that you're going to focus on your writing work.

The more you get into the habit of disciplining yourself to focus on your work, the easier it will get.

Discipline also means putting your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard (or around the pen) even when you don't feel like doing it. Maybe it's freezing in your office, but you know if you hurry up and get your writing goal achieved, you can go relax on the couch where it's warmer. Just get your work done. If it's a long project, set up a work station somewhere more comfortable.

(BTW – I recommend getting a heater if your office is cold to help prevent wrist pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. A heater will also help to keep you focused on your work).

Sometimes we need a little push to stay focused so come up with some things to tell yourself when you need to stay focused on your writing work. Then write the messages on sticky notes and put them up above your work station. Use messages like:

  • "Just do it!"

  • "It's NOT killing you! Keep working!"

  • "Stay focused on the goal."

  • "You can do this!"

Remember, your writing goals can be achieved. You just need to stay disciplined and keep putting in the action.

What tricks do you use for staying focused on your writing work?

Jody Calkins
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