Good news--snow stopped, and I made my lunch date. Now I'm back at this computer with those crickets pestering me and the view out my window is beckoning. Good thing I'm more focused when I'm writing a book on deadline!
Aha! That's it, what I'll write about--how do I stay focused and productive when there are so many distractions? Read on for my tips!
1. Set a schedule:
First off, I'm not a fast writer. Not only am I a bad typist (thank goodness for computers and word processing software, or I would never have completed a manuscript because I would still be typing it), but I'm not the kind of writer who cranks out 20 pages or more a day. I just can't do that, mentally. Or physically, thanks to a cranky back that talks mean to me when I sit for too long. But what I am is a reliable writer. I write on a regular schedule on weekdays. That means 5 pages a day Monday thru Friday. Sure, some days life intrudes, the kids need something, I get sick or I just get busy being a mom, a wife and running household, which is a big job in itself. Sure, I take time off for holidays and vacations, and the occasional shopping trip or scrapbooking afternoon or...whatever. But generally, I can count on turning out around 25 pages a week when I'm writing raw. That adds up fast (100 pages a month=a 300 page book in three months) and I set my deadlines with this writing pace in mind.
So, set a goal (make it easily accomplished, or you'll fail and get frustrated), and then do everything you can to make that goal on a regular basis. And then:
2. Reward yourself for making your goal:I do this almost daily. How? Here's the scenario. It's 10:00 a.m., and I'm getting to work (non morning person here J). I have 5 pages to write. So, if I can focus and write 3 pages before noon, I can leave, do whatever, and then come home and write 2 pages in the afternoon. Easy, I think. I can crank out 2 or 3 pages in an hour. And if I focus, and I have 5 pages by a reasonable time in the afternoon, I get to do something fun. Maybe sit down and read. Or bake something, since I love cooking. Or I get to watch Friends reruns. Or...I get to scrapbook, my current obsession. Whatever floats my boat and makes me want to get my writing done FAST. The point is, find what it is that makes you want to hone in on the writing so you can be done and on to something fun.
3. Leave the house: Sure, one of the perks of being a writer is that you get to work at home. But sometimes home is just one big distraction. Kids in and out. Dogs barking. Laundry. Food beckoning from the kitchen. TV. The Internet. It's all there, conspiring to keep you from cranking out the pages. With a deadline, this can be deadly, and I don't function well writing under the gun. So, sometimes, particularly on school vacations, I leave and go somewhere else to write. I like Panera, but anyplace would work. And when I get there, I do not, under any circumstances, connect to the internet UNTIL I FINISH MY PAGES. Again, the reward thingy comes into play; I tell myself if I finish my pages, I can surf the internet while enjoying a delicious salad and fresh baked bread. Also, Panera only lets you connect to their network for 30 minutes during lunch hours, so there's an automatic cut off if for some reason I should break my own rule and connect early.
So, these are my strategies for staying focused so I can be productive. Basically, I set reasonable goals and then bribe myself with the things I like to do. Works for me. What works for you?
Visit my website at: www.lissamanley.com
February 11, 2012 - I'm participating in "A Moonstruck Romance" at the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe, Lake Oswego, OR between 7 - 9 p.m. Stop by for great chocolate and my talk about romance and writing.