Positive Writer

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How To Stay Focused On Writing

From Bryan: This is a post by outstanding young writer, The Magic Violinist. She will be contributing to Positive Writer on a regular basis. Read her first post for Positive Writer here.

Does this happen to you?

You’re typing a short story, or an article, or some other writing project, when suddenly… ping!

You get a text message. You accidentally hit the wrong key and all of a sudden you’ve forgotten what you were typing…

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Instead of trying to remember what you were going to say next, you jump up to check your phone. When you come back, you realize you have three new e-mails. You check those. Pretty soon, you’ve spent two hours on Facebook and Twitter and you still can’t remember what you were typing earlier that day.

This is what happens when you don’t stay focused.

As a writer, you need all of the concentration you can get. If you’re not completely focused, you’re not writing as well as you could be.

How do you stay focused?

It’s hard, but if you follow these tips, you’ll have an easier time doing it:

1. Turn off your phone.

Yes, turn it off. Don’t set it on vibrate, don’t just lower the volume, shut it down completely. Keep it far away from you so you’re not tempted to turn it back on. You’d be surprised how much good this can do you.

2. Find a space to write.

Where do you do your best writing? In your bedroom? At a coffee shop? The basement? For some people, somewhere nice and quiet is good for them. But for others, a Starbucks might be great for them. For me, I like to go to a coffee shop. If I start to feel stuck, all I have to do is look around me. Listening to peoples’ conversations is a great way to get inspiration. (Come on, I know you all do it, too).

3. Turn off your Internet.

I’m guilty of losing focus. I have times where I feel so frustrated, I go to check my Google Reader or my e-mail. But doing this is just the beginning of letting yourself be sucked into the black hole that is the Internet.

If you really have a hard time preventing yourself using the Internet, do a quick Google search for some programs that turn off your Internet for a certain amount of time. There are plenty of programs out there, and if you’re writing nonfiction and need Google to look up facts, try and find a program that just turns off the things that distract you.

Some programs that you might need to turn off include:

Gmail, Google Reader, Facebook , Twitter, CNN, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr , Instagram…

I’m sure there are many more, but those are just a few examples.

If you’d like an overview of how you are spending your time online, try this program called Rescuetime (free version – not affiliated).

A couple free programs that will help you focus by turning off the internet for you:

For windows: Internet Off

For Mac: Self Control

I have not tested these programs (and they are not affiliate links). I did a quick search to save you “focus time”.

Now these tips aren’t hard and fast. Some things might distract you more than others. Maybe you have no problem not checking your Facebook but you just can’t seem to stop checking your phone. Try not to think of these tips as rules, but as guidelines.

Feel free to take this advice and change it however suits you. After all, you are the only one who can keep yourself focused.

What distracts you from your writing? Do you have a hard time staying focused? What do you do to keep your concentration? Share in the comments!

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About The Magic Violinist

I am a home schooled teenager who daydreams, writes, reads, and does nerdy stuff in my free time. I have two awesome parents, a wonderful little brother, and an adorable, crazy dog named Scout. I blog at The Magic Violinist. I'm also a contributor to The Audacity to be a Writer. I'd say that I want to be an author when I grow up, but I don't think I can wait that long.

  • nancy bouwens

    Nancy Bouwens
    Certified Life Coach, Writer & Speaker

    Simply Abundant Life Coaching
    Live Intentionally in Life and in Business


  • nancy bouwens

    Fabulous reminder to focus on what matters and set aside the mess of tweets, text, calls and other such distraction. Even to just turn off the phone – it’s siren song can’t reach you then! Purposeful choices –

    and YOU definitely don’t need to wait to grow up,to “be” a writer…you already are amazing

    thank you for sharing your gift !

    Nancy 🙂


    • themagicviolinist

      I’m glad you liked it! 🙂

  • This was a good post. You gave many practical ideas in a very concise manner. Great job!

    • themagicviolinist

      Thank you! 😀

  • La McCoy

    Loved it!

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks! 😀

  • Alex Myers

    Good tips! You are so right that a little distraction can break the “magic” of a good writing session. For my own practice, I always start with a hand-written draft, and I’ve found this to be a great way to minimize distraction. Writing with a pen and paper means no internet (or other computer issues)!

    Thanks for your post.

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks! 😀 A hand-written draft is a really good idea. I get so much writing done on long car rides because even if I wanted to go to the computer for something, I couldn’t.

  • You don’t have to wait until you’re grown up to be a writer . . . you are a writer. Excellent post. A topic I just posted on not long ago. It’s something I believe is always a work-in-progress as we write. Distractions will always be with us; it is our determination and focus that quells them into silence and invisibility. Thanks for a great list of tips.

    • themagicviolinist

      Aww, thanks. 🙂

  • Kingsley

    This is just basically my number one problem for now. I really can’t stay focused for up to an hour while writing. Let’s see whether the “internet turn off” thingy will work for me.
    Thanks for this post!


    • themagicviolinist

      Glad I could help! 😀

  • JM Randolph

    I have the “but first” problem before I ever sit down. First I have to start a load of laundry, take the dogs out, referee a fight, make someone’s lunch, change the laundry, load the dishwasher. . .but it’s ridiculous. I can just shut the door and write. (I did that just now and my husband came and asked me to make a salad for dinner. I delegated it. But I’m being distracted by commenting on your post. . .) We do a screen ban for our kids in the summer from 11am-5pm. No electronic screens. I am joining them in it this year and plan on writing longhand and reading actual paper books. We’ll see how it goes.

    • themagicviolinist

      Good for you for taking charge! I give myself time limits when I’m writing (such as, I need to write for an hour before I check anything else). The results are amazing.

  • April Laramey

    Thanks for the tips on software to shut down the internet. I definitely need one of those

    • themagicviolinist

      You’ll need to thank Brian on that one! He found the software, I just wrote about using them. 😉

      • But I followed your instructions, so he gave the right person credit 🙂

  • Jen

    I just wanted to let you know that I read this and used some of your tips for a college paper. I came back a week later and not till then did I see that you were so young and already writing this well. You have a talent! great work!