Five tips to stay focused on your writing – Gabrielle Aquilina

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By Gabrielle Aquilina

I’m sure we’ve all been there (at least I hope we have and I’m not alone in this) – one minute you’re getting on with your work in progress, the words are flowing, things are going really well and then your phone beeps. You’re momentarily distracted and decide to check the message. It might be really important.♥

Of course, it’s not important at all, but now you’re on your phone you may as well check your emails and your Facebook account. Oh, and maybe Twitter just quickly. Oooh, someone just re-pinned one of your Pinterest pins. Might as well read through your daily pin feed while you’re taking a quick break; there might be some interesting pins on there that could provide inspiration for your next scene.

Before you know it, two hours have gone by and you’ve lost your writing mojo. I’ve done this more times than I care to remember. My internet frenzy usually culminates in me giving up on the WIP because I just cannot get back into the scene I was writing. My brain has been frazzled by information and image overload and I need a break. A good long break. Like an overnight one.

So, how do we stop ourselves from being distracted? How can we remain focused in this technological age where we write our novels on computers which also serve as major time sucks in the form of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al?

Here’s five tips that might help you achieve good focus and better productivity. I hope at least a couple of these work for you!

1. Turn off your phone! All the way off, not just on silent or vibrate. And put it upstairs if you’re writing downstairs or vice versa. That’s focus enemy number one taken care of.

2. Turn off your internet – stay with me… I find the internet so incredibly distracting that I’ve turned my wi-fi completely off at times, although that does mean I can’t listen to any internet radio stations whilst writing. Boo. It’s way, way too easy to read your emails, pop over to Facebook, send a couple of tweets (and read about a thousand others), suddenly remember to check out some blogs you’ve been meaning to get round to for the last month. Add all that together and you’ve got a major time suck. BUT, there is a way around this where you can keep your internet on for those radio stations and block websites that you regularly use as a distraction/procrastination tool. Cold Turkey is an app that allows you to block websites for a certain amount of time and there’s no changing it once it’s been set – great idea!

3. Compete with yourself. If you did a thousand words in an hour yesterday, then aim for twelve hundred in an hour today. Or work by chapters, plot points or whatever works for you.

4. Reward yourself. When you’ve completed your plot, treat yourself to that Groupon massage you bought five weeks and almost forgot about. When you’ve reached the half way point in your WIP, go out and have lunch at those fancy tea rooms you’ve been eyeing up for months. And when you type ‘The End’ on your first draft, well, that’ll be dinner, drinks and dancing time.

5. Finally, set a daily or weekly goal and make it achievable. A goal of five thousand words a day isn’t a great plan as it’s too daunting and you’ll be put off before you even sit down to write. A page a day is incredibly easy to do and maintain focus on and you’ll probably find yourself far exceeding this, which will have the added bonus of making you feel smug as well as being motivational and guess what? There’s an app for this too! Try FocusWriter which has timer options, daily progress charts and more.

I hope you’ll find some of these tips useful – let me know if any of them work for you! I’d love to hear from you and find out what you do to keep focused on your writing.


Gabrielle Aquilina is a Contemporary Romance writer who loves Gin, dancing with her daughter (or anyone really), watching trashy TV, watching good TV, listening to music and hanging out with her friends. How To Catch A (Rock) Star is her debut novel and she’s currently hard at work on the second book of the series, so if you loved Jed, Lillie and their friends, then you can look forward to more stories about them soon…

gabrielleaquilina.co.uk

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