Stop Talking About Writing
My recent Twitter #BookMarketingChat on how to focus on writing proved quite popular. Honestly, anything having to do with writing is always a big hit.
Writers love to talk about writing, right? (Sometimes more than we actually write. #TruthBomb.)
In order to get you to close social media and stop reading this post, here are some ideas to help you get the most out of the writing time you do have.
Ways To Focus On Writing
1. Turn off social media notifications for a set period of time while writing. Your phone, your computer, everywhere. You’ll live without knowing who retweeted you, left you little emojis on your Instagram, or shared your Facebook post while you were writing. Promise.
2. Set aside a sacred period of time aside to write. And stick to it. Whether it’s to blog or work on your book or journal or all of the above, stick to that time schedule. Mark it in your planner. Turn off the phone. Make an appointment with yourself, whether it’s ten minutes or two hours. Write.
3. Schedule SOME of your social media so you have more time to focus on writing. I’ll talk more about this next week yet for now, if you aren’t using scheduling options like buffer or hootsuite, or any other scheduling tool that works for your brain, you’re not utilizing effective time-management skills. And guess what? You’re an adult now. Adult.
Take a look at what these social media management companies offer and incorporate scheduling into your day.
Tip: I don’t recommend automating everything because that’s just dumb. You must interact with readers, bloggers, reviewers, and others to build relationships and be authentic. However, you certainly can schedule in quotes, blog posts, and articles of interest.
4. Get into Flow. What is flow? You’ve no doubt felt it. It’s the complete immersion into your work or an activity to the exclusion of everything else. Example: where you’re so immersed in writing or painting or composing that you don’t hear or see anything else going on around you.
Get into flow by allowing yourself to just write. Listen to music (or don’t). I like the BrainFood hypnotic mix free on Spotify. Feel the words you write by allowing yourself to get deep into your brain work and feel the emotion of what you’re writing. Don’t worry about who will read them. Don’t edit. Just write.
5. Use a planner for your writing. Whether it’s an actual calendar (e.g., Google Calendar is free) or something else, write down your writing plans. It’s okay if it changes (and it will). Creating a plan helps you focus so you know what to write that day. It also creates a habit to organize your brain for writing.
Scientific studies show that planning our writing helps us in more ways than many of us ever realized.
6. Stop worrying. Easier said than done, I know. Not really though. I write about writing fears (all writers have them) on my author blog. For now, while you write, stop thinking about who will read it, what they’ll say, etc. Create that shitty first draft. You have permission to not be perfect.
Your ‘shitty first draft’ needs to be free-flowing, non-self-edited crapadoodle. You hear me, you little perfectionistic drones? Give yourself permission to purge your word vomit.
Again, this goes to focus. Get into flow, stop with the worrying, and focus on the creativity of writing. Free your mind.
7. Research. While we’re writing, we often need to do research, too. What to do? Make a “TK” note (= to come later) and jot down in your RESEARCH ONLY notebook (print or online) a note to look up stuff and keep writing with your flow. Then come back to it later once your writing time is over.
Tip: Super convenient also to keep a small, handy notebook or journal with you at all times for research, notes, blog post ideas, writing ideas, etc., to jot down anything and everything so you don’t lose it. shauntagrimes writes about this on medium (follow her!)
Example: As I wrote this, I wrote “Shaunta Grimes writes about this on Medium (follow her!) TK add links” and just kept going to point number eight. This is a breadcrumb for me to go back later and add that Medium article somewhere that I know Shaunta wrote about having a notebook handy. Rather than taking the time to stop to find it while I’m writing and in flow, I’ll come back to it later so as not to distract myself with more shiny things that Shaunta writes. 😀
8. Create a writing-conducive environment. You deserve it, right? I got very little writing done when I didn’t have an office to write in, so my guy and my daughter helped me create one. I gave myself a budget, we all did it, and I love it. It’s not fancy but it works for me. Even when my ‘office’ was a tiny desk in my tiny bedroom, I made it work.
9. NO self-editing. Editing comes later. When you’re writing, write. That’s all. Whether it’s total junk or complete brilliance, let your creativity out to play! The only beast you want to tame is the Perfectionism Monster. That bitch can crawl back in her hole.
10. Accept distractions. Life is messy. Distractions are a part of life. Deadlines will whoosh by and that’s just how it is sometimes. Kids get sick. We get sick. That doesn’t mean you’ll always miss a deadline or you’ll never get your writing done. Watch those qualifiers.
Regroup. Try again. Be kind to yourself. Just as we wouldn’t talk to our best friend with negativity, we needn’t give ourselves a hard time for paying attention to life stuff, either.
There are lots of apps out there to help you be less distracted. I find myself going into a rabbit hole of trying them instead of writing, so I don’t use them. Turning everything off and just writing helps me the most. Do what works for you.
The trick is to do it.
Rachel is the author of 6 nonfiction books so far (2 humor, 2 memoir/poetry, and 2 business). She’s releasing 2 more this year.
Connect with Rachel on her personal site at RachelintheOC.com or on her business site at BadRedheadMedia.com, Twitter at @RachelintheOC or@BadRedheadMedia, Instagram, Facebook, and join her free weekly #SexAbuseChat on Twitter every Tuesday 6pm pst/9pm est or #BookMarketingChat on Twitter every Wednesday 6 pm pst/9 pm est (just use the hashtag to join).
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