Do you struggle with focus, productivity, and getting inspired? Are you one of those people who fears that at the time of their death, they will have watched 13 YEARS of television? (Scary, but this is an actual statistical lifetime average for the UK.) When you sit down to write, do you feel compelled to clean out your closets, call all your friends, eat everything in your refrigerator?
Here are my top ten tips for getting back on the Focus Train.
1. Wake up early. Which means you can’t stay up late drinking. (You know who you are people…)
2. Write at the same time every day, five days a week. No exceptions.
3. Create rituals around your writing. Coffee? Colored Pencils? Metallica? It’s surprising how Pavlovian connections work. The minute I smell caffeine, I start looking for my computer.
4. Take a break every hour for five minutes. Do jumping jacks, go outside and water your plants, stare at yourself in the mirror and wonder how you got so pasty.
5. Don’t look at your email before you start writing. I was skeptical about this one– I believed that getting my email “out of the way” calmed me down. In actuality, it had the opposite effect. As I was writing, I kept worrying about the email responses to the email responses I had just sent. Get your creative work done first. Remember, your email box is a filing cabinet for other people’s agendas.
6. When you’re not writing, read a book or watch a movie in the same genre. Get inspired!
7. Create a schedule, set deadlines for yourself. Pages per day or word count per day. If you finish fast, hurray! If it’s a brutal day, keep your butt in the chair.
8. Remember that writing is a job, not a hobby.
9. Find someone to help you create social accountability. If you don’t finish your pages, you have to publicly acknowledge this to them. I have a client who struggles with focus and recently bet a friend he would deliver his first draft by a certain date or pay him $2,000. Guess what. He made his deadline.
10. Stop making excuses. When you make excuses, you’re just legitimizing your own resistance. Own the fact that you’re falling down on the job. Be honest. Weirdly, this can get you back on track.
Here’s the plain bald truth. If you’re a screenwriter and you write 5 pages a day, you’ll finish your draft in 22 days. Writing fiction or memoir? If you write 1,000 words a day and are writing an average length book, you’ll finish your draft in 70 days.
Last fall, as a mentor at The Daily Love’s Writing Mastermind retreat in Bali, I watched 14 incredible women write their scripts and books in ONE MONTH.
Take action! Do all these things above. Be shocked at how many pages you crank out.
Also, if you have other tips that have worked for you and can help others, please post them on our Facebook page.