Wednesday, December 6, 2017

5 Must-Haves for the Writer Struggling to Focus

I've recently been working hard at meeting my tight fiction project deadline that arrives this month. (Which is to explain for today's short post!) Even though I absolutely love working on this project, it's sometimes tough for me to eliminate distractions and focus. I often struggle with hitting the pause button on my life and hitting the play button to my character's life. 

However, the ability to eliminate (distractions) + concentrate is a quality that every serious writer must work to cultivate. Especially those who hope to complete a book.

So if you, too, are struggling with concentrating -- whether you're writing your first book or working on the edits to your NaNoWriMo project -- perhaps you'll find these must-haves useful. I've chosen the top five things that have helped me to block out the world, get into the zone, and lose myself in the story. 

1. Your preferred writing method.

Some writers can't even consider using any program other than Microsoft Word to complete their project. Me, on the other hand? I have to use Scrivener. I love the special features it offers that helps me to keep track of my scattered notes and organize my plot. 

Whatever writing program you use -- or even if you prefer to write by hand -- make sure you're comfortable with your method. If you're writing by hand, choose a nice pen. If you're typing, select your favorite font and size. 

2. Inspiration.

Every serious writer knows that it's best to write even if you lack inspiration. But why not try to find the inspiration when it feels lacking? 

I create a Spotify music playlist for every fiction project I work on, and this is usually the music I listen to as I write. I also create a private Pinterest board for my projects which contains "pictures" of my characters, the setting, quotes and scriptures that relate to the theme, etc. Then, when I'm working on this project, I set the background wallpaper on my laptop to display these pictures (sort of like a slideshow). 

3. The perfect writer's space. 

Okay, so we can't always write in our dream writing spaces. Sometimes, especially when we're on a deadline, we have no choice but to work wherever we are -- whether it's in a car or even on our iPhone. But if you have the flexibility to arrange a writer's space, I recommend that you do so, as it might aid in your concentration. Find a room in your house that eliminates distractions. You might want to add an inspirational ambiance as well by lighting candles, opening windows, cleaning the space, etc. (Fun fact: A clean work area promotes productivity, whereas clutter will often hinder progress in our work.)

4. Snacks + drinks.

I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to write unless I'm sipping on something. In the morning and during the day, coffee and smoothies are my preferred drinks of choice. In the evenings and at night, I put on a pot of hot tea (decaffeinated), or I sip on other healthy and low-carb drinks -- such as Kombuchas, carbonated water, or Zevias.  

5. A timer.

Does it often take forever for you to get into the zone? Here's a tip: Set your timer for a short period of time, between 15 and 30 minutes. See how much you can get accomplished in that short amount of time. Usually, once we get past that first hurdle, the words start to flow easier. But make sure you don't stop typing until you hear that timer go off!

Trust me: Once you can get into the zone, there's no turning back! In fact, you might just find yourself struggling to hit the "pause" button on your character's life so you can return to your own. Not a bad problem to have, if you ask me!

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5 Must-Haves for the Writer Struggling to Focus #writingtips #writerslife @TessaEmilyHall

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How do you "get into the zone" and focus on your current writing project?


  1. I definitely need to work on creating a calm enviroment without so many distractions. I don't have a lot of room, but I was thinking a more comfortable chair might be nice. I have a hard time working at a desk or in an upright chair.

    1. Hi Meaghan!

      Can you work well with music -- such as instrumental music? When my environment is noisy, I've found that using earphones to listen to music helps me to block out everything else. I love instrumental music since I don't become distracted by the lyrics.

      Also, I'm not sure if this would work for you, but I've found that standing up helps a ton. There are stand up desks you can buy, or you can create one (like I did) or use the kitchen counter, if possible. ;)

      Hope that helps!


  2. Thanks, Jessa.

    You mention a timer. I set one for twenty-five minutes. When it buzzes, I get up and walk a figure of eight around my writing room, make myself a snack, or do something that gets me away from the computer. That's when I get some of my best ideas.

    Re inspiration: Whenever an idea occurs to me, I jot it down on a sticky note, text it to myself, or add it to a file on my computer. That way, I don't lose it.

  3. Er ... I see it's "Tessa" not "Jessa." Sorry!


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