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6 ways for easily distracted writers to stay focused

With all the social media distractions, it’s hard to focus on tasks that require your full concentration – especially one such as writing. Top that off with a touch of ADD and it’s even tougher.stay focused

Here are six ways that have helped me stay focused on writing. Note that there’s nothing particularly new here…but we all need reminders that successful focus needn’t be as elusive as we think.

1. Remember that everything takes longer than you think. I generate a lot of ideas for writing and marketing my work early in the week. Then I struggle with the time required to complete them if I want to do them well. By the end of the week, if I haven’t reminded myself of that, I’m often left feeling like I didn’t get much done. When in fact, I had. Just not everything on my original list.

2. Train your brain with good non-fiction. There’s something about the straightforward writing typical of non-fiction books that helps me focus. When I feel my writing has run out of steam, I go to the library (or my Nook) and check-out (or purchase) non-fiction books I think I will like. They seem to produce some kind of chemical reaction in my brain, the kind that helps me write coherently again.

3. Change your scenery. Our home office is in the basement, and while it is in a finished room, I find it rather depressing to be cooped up all day. So, sometimes I work at our kitchen table where there’s sunlight; other times, I go to a favorite coffee shop with my iPad and spiral-bound notebook and spend an hour or two focusing on writing. That way, I’m not easily distracted by the laundry or the refrigerator and I get to drink fancy coffee.

4. Rest your brain. It’s really important to give your brain a rest. When mine is no longer capable of producing material that make sense, it’s time for a Real Housewives marathon on Bravo. Brain candy is good for the soul…and for providing a much needed break from the serious task of writing.

5. Get some sleep! After a particularly unfocused day, I really, really try to go to sleep at a decent hour so that I can get as much REM sleep as possible. When that happens, it seems the sub-conscious part of my brain takes all those scattered thoughts and allows them to gather cohesively the next day. Ah…sweet dreams.

6. Finally, congratulate yourself on all that you’ve accomplished. Even if it’s not as much as you’d hoped. Don’t tear yourself apart for those few moments when you felt unproductive. Focus on the things you did accomplish, and remember, there’s always tomorrow. Especially after a good night’s sleep.

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How do you stay focused on writing in spite of all the distractions?

If you are a student or adult learner, check out these books on APA and MLA writing.

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September 16, 2013 - 7:15 pm

Ronelle Grier - You have described my biggest challenge – staying focused! Especially when working from home….there’s always some distraction….doing laundry, filing that pile of receipts, paying bills, answering emails, finishing a chapter of that compelling book on my nightstand that somehow found its way downstairs to the coffee table, and, of course, making a cup of coffee and finding some sort of appropriate snack to accompany it….
Starbucks is not quiet enough for me to concentrate on work, but I’ve found allocating a couple of hours to go to the library works – during the weekdays it’s easy to get a “quiet room” with an outlet for the laptop, a table to spread out my stuff on, and a door that closes.

September 16, 2013 - 9:09 pm

pamhoughton - Hi Ronelle! I agree with you – sometimes Starbucks is not quiet enough to concentrate. The library is an excellent idea. Trouble is, I feel like I’m in school again when I go there and some teacher is going to tell me to quit talking to my neighbor or something! Not that I’d be talking to “my neighbor”, as an adult, at the library, when I’m there alone! Thanks for visiting!

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