Forever ago, I wrote an article about making time for writing. (As my former pseudonym Eva Gold)
I think it’s time to revisit this, because Camp NaNoWriMo is starting tomorrow.
Here we go. An un-ordered list of things you need to do in order to maintain your focus. I’m keeping it short. There are a million lists like this already in existence, but here’s my contribution.
Friends and family should be aware that writing time is not play time.
Many writers make the mistake of referring to their writing as a hobby. This isn’t a horrible thing, since not everyone is a full-time writer. In fact, most of us write on the side, when we can. But calling it a “hobby” gives a certain perception. People will think since it’s “just a hobby,” it’s okay to call you when you’re writing. Furthermore, it’s okay to drag you from it whenever possible. You can pick it up later right? WRONG. Nip that nonsense in the bud right now. If my friends try to pester me while I’m writing, I tell them I’m busy. If they don’t listen, I ignore them. It’s not rude and here’s why–we are adults. If I tell someone I can’t talk/text/IM right now, and they don’t understand that, it’s an issue with them.
Bring a snack.
I know, I know. What sort of advice is this? But if you’re like me, a trip to the kitchen is distraction central. The last thing you need to do while writing is spend twenty minutes wondering what to eat! Grab a banana, water bottle, skittles, or whatever you can eat at your writing station. I used to never eat at my computer… but then I spilled coffee on my keyboard and now it’s open season.
Set the mood and get comfy.
I write to music. If I’m writing romance, I tend to listen to whatever upbeat nonsense. If I’m writing sex, I jam out to anything from Muse to Portishead. If I’m just writing, I listen to instrumentals or anime soundtracks. Some people can’t listen to music, that’s fine.
But be comfortable. Before you sit, sprawl, or lounge, wiggle your arms and legs a bit. Make sure your shirt isn’t itchy. Don’t be too cold or hot. Think of this before you start and avoid having to get up a dozen times to find a sweater or shut the blinds so you can strip. (or whatever. You do you.)
Turn your phone upside-down.
While you’re writing, don’t let notifications distract you. This is a fairly easy thing. Self-explanatory.
Use tab-browsing and restrict yourself to those tabs for your writing session.
For me, this means having only iHeartRadio open. But if you are working from research, limit yourself to what you already have. This doesn’t work for everyone, I know. I like to research before writing. Sometimes the urge to google something will rise, but I can usually just make a note and check later. If you write in Word you can use the Smart Lookup. If you aren’t abusing that feature, get to it!
Some days, writing means staring off into space or watching the cursor line blink. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. I’ve had amazing sprints where I end up with several hundred words… of garbage. It’s important to realize that your confidence will wax and wane throughout the creative process, but you should never chalk it up to being untalented. We’re all only human. Do your best and strive to make it better, but don’t let the hard times or rough drafts get you down.