If you’re a freelance writer, a person who is trying to write a book, or just someone who has a big writing project to complete, try these tips for staying focused:
1. Schedule your writing for YOUR most productive time of the day.
For example, don’t leave your writing for the very last thing at night if you’re an early bird who is most productive in the mornings yet tends to get worn out by 9:00 p.m. Your productive time is your “writing zone.” When you work “in the zone” your writing will be better and you’ll find it much easier to stay focused.
2. Set aside a specific amount of time for each writing project.
When you do this you won’t need to rush or feel that you’re neglecting your other writing projects in favor of just one. You’ll be able to relax and give your full attention to that one project for the amount of time you’ve set aside for it.
3. Build some momentum for those larger writing projects.
If you’re working on something big like a book, you need to keep at it long enough to see things start coming together and build some momentum. Once you do, it will be easier to complete the project.
4. Don’t try to write for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time.
If you can only write for one hour at a time (or just one hour a day) that will be a good start. As you create momentum you’ll naturally increase your writing time. Too often, beginning writers feel they need to set aside huge chunks of time for writing. When they aren’t able to do that consistently, they give up. They don’t realize that most writers don’t write for 8 to 10 hours a day. Instead, they write every day for shorter periods of time. The key is they write consistently, not just when they’re in the mood or feel inspired.
5. Schedule something fun and relaxing to do every day AFTER you have completed your writing.
This can be your reward for the day. You want writing to become PART of a wonderful life. You don’t want to put your life on hold so you can write. That’s no fun!
6. Find a writing buddy.
To work with a writing buddy, schedule regular writing times and then both of you should write during the scheduled time. You don’t have to be in the same location as your writing buddy while you write. You just need a way to communicate. After your set writing time for the day is up, email or call your buddy to report your progress. Having someone to be accountable to will make it easier to stay focused for a specific amount of time.
7. Be sure you have a realistic marketing plan and work schedule every Monday morning BEFORE your work week begins.
When you know WHAT you need to write and WHEN you need to write it, you’ll find it easier to get started each day and it will be easier to stay focused. Plus, you won’t waste precious writing time trying to figure out WHAT to write. Make as many decisions about WHAT to write on the weekend when you’re making your weekly marketing plan and your writing schedule for the coming week.
8. Set writing goals for each day.
Plan to write just one page of your novel or nonfiction book per day, for example. Then, if you write more than that on any given day, you’ll be elated. If you only manage to eek out one page you’ll still feel good because you met your goal for the day. When you have specific writing goals for each writing session, you’re more likely t stay focused and you’ll usually meet those goals rather than just get a little writing done.
9. Record your progress.
Are you writing every day? For how long? You’ll be motivated to keep going, and you’ll be better able to stay focused, if you SEE that you’re making progress. You don’t have to make BIG progress every day. A little progress consistently over time is what really adds up.
10. Learn HOW to write the type of thing you’re trying to write.
If you’ve decided to write a novel, read books about writing novels, sign up for a novel writing workshop or course online or at your local college. If you know HOW to do something, you won’t feel like you’re just driving around in the dark with no destination. You’ll know where and how to get where you want to go, so you’ll be more likely to stick with it till you get there.
11. Stay relaxed as you write.
Listen to relaxation tapes. Take a walk, do whatever you need to do to clear your mind before you sit down to write. If you write in a stressed or frazzled state the work won’t be as good. Plus, you’ll tend to freeze up and not get much accomplished.
12. Set your intentions before you begin your writing for the day.
You might say to yourself, “Today’s writing will be easy and enjoyable and the article I’m working on will seem to write itself.” It’s amazing how much this affects not only the quality of your writing but also the writing process itself.
Follow these tips and you’ll have an easier time staying focused on your writing. You’ll enjoy the writing process more, too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
For more writing tips, subscribe to Build Your Business Write, a twice a week newsletter, designed to help you write your way to business success. Get more articles, reviews, and other resources to help build your freelance writing business at http://www.workingwriterscoach.com Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, the author of 22 published books, and the Working Writer’s Coach.