Unlike the person in this post’s image, I am not off traveling. But my brain constantly is. At hyperspeed. See, if I had the chance to travel, I’d take the time to enjoy the places I went and savor the trip. My brain, on the other hand, zips around from one topic to another at top speed, making it really hard to focus on anything. Which, of course, includes writing.
I find it extremely hard to start writing. Once I’ve begun and gotten into it, it’s a lot easier for me to stay focused, but being able to keep my brain in check long enough to get started is a struggle. So how do you overcome that?
1. Participate in a word war
These are invaluable tools. Get a writing buddy, set a time, and write like crazy (particularly if you’re writing against my friend Val. You’ll need to type like your life depends on it for that battle). Here’s how they work: You and a friend (or two, or three, or ten) set a time to start, e.g. 10:30 (although if you have to deal with different time zones, just use the minute, e.g. :30) and how many minutes you want to write for. The format would look something like this: 15 minutes at :30. And then you write, and whoever writes the most words in the allotted time wins.
2. Use Fighter’s Block
Seriously, this thing is amazing. You put in the amount of words you’d like to write, and then you gain or lose XP depending on how fast you write, and the settings can be changed so that you’re not constantly dying just because you’re not that fast, or so that if you’d like a challenge you can lose XP faster. You can also change how much XP you lose at a time, and modify (to an extend) the writing background and font. It’s really great to get you writing. Just don’t push the pause button and go check your email. I’ve considered taping something over the pause button so I can’t see it and won’t be quite so inclined to abuse it, because that’s something I do and need to stop.
3. Be accountable
If you can go write somewhere that someone will see you and be able to tell if you’re writing or browsing the internet, do it. They can catch you if you switch over, and you’ll want to keep writing to avoid the embarrassment of that. Or at least do it less often. Or, I don’t know, if you’re someone like my sister you might just find sneakier ways to switch over. ;) (Love you, Siberia.)
4. Change your scenery
I feel like I say this a lot. Go somewhere else to write. Your backyard, a coffee shop, your bed if you usually write at a desk (or vice versa, I suppose), etc. This could be really good or it could massively backfire and give your brain a million times the normal distractions, so try it out a couple of times and see how it works. When I write in my backyard I tend to look around and ponder what to write before doing so, which makes the process take longer, but also means there’s more thought behind it. Usually whatever I end up writing takes place outdoors, because I use my surroundings as inspiration in that case.
5. Turn off the internet
There are apps out there (I haven’t found a particularly good one yet) that will take away your access to specific sites. Use these to keep you on task and away from Facebook, Pinterest, wherever else you get caught in the black hole of refreshing the page (even if you know there’s nothing new). For me, those sites are Facebook and the NaNoWriMo forums. It used to be Pinterest, but I’ve since made myself stop almost ever looking at my Pinterest feed. If I need to look for something to flesh out a storyboard, character board, etc. I use the search feature or look at existing boards like my “Writing Inspiration” board and grab from there. And those searches also add to my reference boards, so it’s a working cycle. But anyway, that was rather off-topic. Continuing.
6. Give yourself a reward
My sister will be making peanut butter cookies soon as NaNoWriMo fuel, and as a reward for me reaching my goal of 100k on The Last Assassin. (No, I haven’t achieved that yet.) For NaNoWriMo I’ve set up rewards of apple bread, pumpkin bread, last year’s winner t-shirt, and reading Echoes by Miranda Marie, which is sitting on my shelf looking beautiful and torturing me because I can’t read it yet! Echoes is my reward for reaching 100k next month, and I am eagerly awaiting that milestone because ECHOES! Seriously, the book is amazing and you need to go buy it now. Or soon. Aaaaaand I’m off-topic again. *cough* Apologies
not really for the fangirling. Anyway, set yourself a reward that means something to you and you’ll be excited to reach. Like chocolate, or baking, or an amazing, incredible, gorgeous book. Whatever works for you.
I hope that something in there helps you (and that I take some of my own advice…). What do you do when you struggle to sit down and write?
Related Post: 5 Tips to Help You Stick with a Writing Project