5 Tips for Writers to Stay on Task
I am the world's best procrastinator. If procrastination became an Olympic sport, I would be a world champion. A gold medalist. I'm also an individual that when focused (doesn't happen too often) can achieve anything in the most efficient and pleasant manner possible. I know what I want and what I love. I never steer clear of the course when I'm focused. I have 5 methods that help me stay on task. I use these methods in all platforms in life when I need motivation to get going.
Here's a quick list that I hope can shed some light on your focusing problems while writing the next big series.
Make it a Chore
I know that sounds as fun as sticking your head in a deep fryer, but it works. Here's an example from another area of my life. For the longest time (3 years...don't tell), I made excuses as to why I couldn't go to he gym: it's too expensive, I'm a busy mom that works full-time, it's out of the way, etc. This continued until I said, "screw it! I'm going to make time for the gym". I made a conscious effort to go on days when my hubby picked up the kids from school before I got home or I would go at night after the kiddos were in bed. It didn't matter if I was there a couple hours or a half an hour. It didn't matter if I pushed the limits of my workout or if it was a total slacker workout...the bottom line...I worked out. Same as writing. The bottom line...I wrote something. It doesn't matter how much or how great.
Make a List
I need to set deadlines for myself. If I don't, I tend to procrastinate like crazy. Making a list of deadlines may work for you as well. I will finish (blank) chapters by (blank) date. Or after you've finished writing one day, take five minutes afterward to write up a to-do list of what to do on your next writing session. I need to research a swampy environment, what goes into pickling vegetables, work on character development for Suzie, and finish chapter 2.
A nice quiet room for writing is not for me, it actually distracts me more, but for some people, they prefer silence or solitude. Whatever works for you, but that isn't the only distraction. Since most writers use computers to type out their work, we get distracted much easier. The computer has the internet, thus giving us information at our fingertips. I sometimes start looking up the correct usage of a slang word, but end up on a celeb site looking up a movie by the same name. One way to avoid the runaway train of internet searching is to go into your computer's settings disable your access to the worldwide web. It's okay...you can do it (it's not permanent, I promise!)
Stick to a Routine
Routines. We have them for every day activities like getting ready for work. You have a sequence of events each morning that help you get out the door on time. So why don't you apply this method to your writing? Here's my routine. I brew some coffee and pour myself a cup while my laptop fires up. I start my Skyrim Pandora station (awesome writing music). Then I pick my spot to write (outdoors if the weather is nice or on the couch in my favorite spot). I then lay my notes next to me, read the last paragraph I typed and away I go.
Hide all other Devices
I mean it! Hide your phone, your tablet, your kids (jk). Try to make sure all other media is away from you, i.e. TV and current novel. It should just be you, your laptop, and your words. The trifecta of authors everywhere.
Now I need to stop procrastinating by writing blog posts and get back to what I love to do...write fiction!
What are some of the tips that you use to stay on task while writing? Tell me what you do!
Jeanette Pekala is the author of Culture Shock and the soon-to-be-released Shock Wave.