I love looking inside peoples’ supermarket trolleys. I also LOVE when people share what’s inside their handbags. Basically, I’m a snoop. One of the questions I get asked a lot is how I stay focused when I write and when do I write? This is a question most writers love learning about. Looking at peoples writing routines is like snooping into their diaries. I also love seeing what they eat and drink while they write. Hot chocolates, biscuits, crisps. I love photos of their writing desks too and their studies. Okay, I really am a snoop.
But now YOU get to snoop into my own writing routine and learn about how I stay focused while writing.
When I dropped down to teaching one day a week, I knew I’d have to plan my other days out so I wouldn’t just be at home uselessly scrolling through social media or kicking back watching RHONY. It would be really easy to do this and not write, be productive and strive towards my goals. So what did I do? I created a timetable.
CREATE A WEEKLY/NIGHTLY TIMETABLE FOR PRODUCTIVE WRITING SESSIONS
- Realistically plan your timetable: In my timetable, I sectioned out times for exercise, lunch, meditation, school drop offs and pick ups. On a Monday, I leave myself two hours for errands, doctor appointments and other jobs. On Friday, I have the option to meet a friend for lunch. But I ensure that I am writing EVERY DAY.
YOU ONLY NEED TO WRITE 2000 WORDS A DAY
- If you want to write 2,000 words per day, you only need 2 hours. And if you divide that 80,000 words for a first draft, that is only 40 days. This is how I wrote THE SHALLOWS and a previous manuscript. It only took me 7-8 weeks to complete my first draft.
SHORT BURST WRIITING FOLLOWED BY BREAKS
- We implement this in the classroom and it works for us writers too. Write for an hour and then take a break, make a tea, read a bit or go outside for some fresh air. OR, you may like to scroll mindlessly through Insta, but make certain to set a timer for ten minutes. You don’t want to eat into your writing writing session. If one hour is too much, cut it to 20 minutes. I find I’m on a roll after about ten minutes writing and I don’t want to stop.
WRITE WITH MOTIVATED BUDDIES
- Every fortnight, my writing group meets to chat, drink tea, eat muffins… and write. We even have a set time where we’re allowed to chat and then start writing again and we don’t tend to go over the chatting time (much). We chat for 30 minutes and write for 30, then repeat and it WORKS!
- It keeps us motivated knowing other people are working around us.
- You can discuss plot problems or character issues during chat time which then makes you eager to keep writing.
- It’s comforting and not so isolating. (We all know how isolating writing can be if you’re at home).
CHOOSE TO WRITE IN DIFFERENT SETTINGS
- Sometimes I want to get out of the house and write in a cafe or somewhere that reminds me of the scene I’m delving into. I like to write with water views to inspire my water scenes.
- The murmur of voices is like white noise and again, feels quite comforting.
- You’re around people and people are inspo, so you can do a bit of people watching for character creating.
- Coffee. Cake. Say no more.
WRITE LIKE IT’S A JOB. BECAUSE IT IS.
- As soon as I knew I was getting paid to write my books, I thought I would be treating my writing more seriously knowing I had a deadline and an expectation to deliver. But guess what? I didn’t feel more serious about it. That’s because I have ALWAYS treated writing like a job. I set myself my own deadlines, goals to achieve word counts and goals to complete manuscripts.
- If you already start with this frame of mind and treat your writing seriously, then you’ll never feel shocked when someone else expects you to.
- Writing should always be a job if your goal is to be a published author. Your job is to meet your goal.
SET smart GOALS
- Set: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely goals.
- I still set myself goals. Goals to have written an extra novel by the time my publisher expects the two. Goals to work on previous manuscripts. Goals to write the best that I can. Goals to read. Goals to read quality fiction and use their style/prose as inspiration. Goals for word count targets. Goals for rewrite time-frames. Daily goals.
These are my main tips for “staying focused” while writing. These are what I live by and they work, I promise. There is no excuse. If you want to write a novel, if you want to get published, if you want to be a full time writer, you have to treat it like any other job and work hard, set goals and celebrate the wins when they come!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope this helps!