Quick Tip Tuesday:
Don’t let your writing practice get derailed by distraction…
In my last post, I promised that I would share some useable tips and strategies to help you cultivate the mental focus to stay on track when you sit down to your writing practice. After all, we can’t just sit around waiting for inspiration to strike, and we certainly can’t set aside our writing every time we get distracted. If we did, well… we would only commit words to the page once in a blue moon! So, for the next few weeks I’ll be delivering quick tips to help you stay on track.
Welcome to your first Quick Tip Tuesday!
Quick Tip #1: Create a drawer and USE IT.
When we’re sitting in front of our writing—whether we’re on a computer at a desk or in a park with a notebook—it’s likely that we’ll be accosted by uninvited thoughts. Just when we’re least expecting it... ZING! “I need to pick up milk at the store.” WHOOSH! “I should write a blog post on this topic.” KAPOW! “There is a strong possibility that I just solved the mystery of the universe.”
Our brains work in funny ways. We come up with great ideas and remember important things just when we’re trying to focus on something else. Sometimes it happens because we’re trying to focus on something else. Of course, not all zingers are created equal. Remembering that you need to take out the trash is not quite on par with the key plot point that will finally make your book’s conclusion work. Nonetheless, they are equal insofar as they both show up in the middle of your writing practice to distract you from the work at hand.
If only it was as easy as just “turning off” your uninvited thoughts while you focus on your writing. Well, we’re human. So that seems like an unlikely solution.
Having a drawer can help.
What is a drawer? A drawer is a storage space. It can take one of several forms (more on that below), but the key is that it is a dedicated space for you to “store” your uninvited thoughts.
Here’s how it works:
When our silly brains try really hard to block out uninvited or unwanted thoughts, more likely than not we’ll be unable to focus on anything but. Ugh. So, the trick is not to squelch those thoughts, it’s to trick your brain so it can let them go while you write.
When you’re writing and a zinger zooms in, write it down and put it in your drawer.
Writing down your thought and putting it in your drawer is a way to tell your brain, “Hey, I see that thought. It’s worth paying attention to, but not right now. Don’t worry, though, brain! That thought is written down in the drawer so I can’t forget about it and I can give it my full attention later.”
Rather than spending your energy on trying to ignore uninvited thoughts, acknowledge them, write them down, and put them in your drawer for after your writing session. That’s it! As simple as it sounds, it can be a very powerful tool for keeping your focus where it belongs: on your writing.
So, let’s talk about your drawer. The key to a drawer is that it is a dedicated space and that it is a place you can store written notes. But as I mentioned above, it can take several forms:
A physical drawer where you can dump handwritten notes as you write. Out of sight, out of mind!
A dedicated notebook that you keep by your side as you write. Add a note, close the cover!
A computer folder or file that hangs out on your desktop while you write. Just type it in and be done with it!
Having trouble with uninvited thoughts disrupting your writing focus? Give this one a try!
And check back for more Quick Tip Tuesdays to help your writing stay on track.
In the meantime, if you're ready for more and you're ready now,
I offer one-on-one coaching for writers across the United States.