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…
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!