As an aspiring author, I sometimes need help focusing on my current work. This is because I have started and stopped so many stories. I am learning that writing is not a race but a marathon, and the marathon does not start until you finish your first manuscript. Until then, you are at the starting line, waiting for the gun to fire. Once you type your last word, a huge bang goes off, and the marathon has begun. So how can you stay focused enough to get to the starting line? Well, here is how:
For each writing session, make specific writing goals, like how many words you would like to write or how many chapters you would like to finish. Make those goals and aim to complete them each time. Having a plan in place will help you stay motivated and focused. Everything cannot be perfect, so sometimes, we fall a little short of our goals. That is ok; adjust your goals to help you, set another goal the next time, and try again.
Having a plan in place will help you stay motivated and focused.-Tia Eley
Create a writing routine
Establish a writing routine that best fits you and your schedule. For someone with children, you may have less time to write than someone who does not, so look at your schedule and do what is best for you and your life. Writing daily will benefit you in the long run, even for just 20 minutes between the kid’s naps. Setting a practice as simple as that will not only help you accomplish your writing goals, but it will also help you become a better writer one word at a time.
Identify and eliminate any distractions that might interfere with your writing. Turn off your phone, log out of social media, and create a quiet environment to write in. I cannot write in total silence, so I play music in the background, put my phone on silent, and get to work. It may also be beneficial if you have absolute silence. Figure out what works for you and create the environment needed to get as much writing done as possible. This will help you concentrate on your writing and avoid getting sidetracked.
Taking breaks can help you stay focused and prevent burnout from occurring. Instead, the breaks are five minutes or a whole day. Take a break from your work in progress. Some of my best ideas come from when I am away from my computer. This will help you come back recharged and sometimes can inspire your next piece.
It’s easier said than done, but it can be done. I once heard a person tell me, “You have to love what you are writing to be able to write it.” Initially, I did not understand what that meant. It wasn’t until I sat down and wrote my first manuscript that I fully understood. You have to love what you are writing because you will have to read it a lot. Seeing the story you love completed will motivate you to write it. Set milestones and celebrate them. Writing is not easy and should be celebrated at each phase, no matter how big or small. Remember what made you want to write in the first place. That is your foundation.
Remember, this is a marathon, not a race. Holding your finished product will be worth it because you stayed focused and got it done.
Tia Eley is an English major at Houston Community College, a fantasy writer, and a registered Behavior Technician for children with special needs. She is also the Communications Intern at Create and Blossom Studios. Follow Tia on TikTok at @WordsThroughChaos.