We’re living in unprecedented times and many of us authors and writers are still in lockdown or are practicing social distancing at home. Whether or not you’re stuck inside, there’s still an undertone of anxiety that can make it super difficult to stay focused on your writing.
Not spending your time at home writing might induce feelings of guilt or FOFB (Fear of Falling Behind)--especially when you check into Facebook and see your friends posting about how much they’ve gotten done.
So, let’s talk about how you can stay focused on your writing during the pandemic and alleviate some mental pressure.
Staying Focused on Writing… DOStaying focused doesn’t necessarily equate to sitting down at the keyboard, writing and never getting up. Here are some of the dos for achieving your writing goals
Write up a Schedule
Be realistic about when you’re going to wake up and go to bed, and what your most active times of the day are. Set aside times for your writing and guard them--close the door, switch off your phone, block websites that are time sucks so you can better focus on your work-in-progress.
Remember, though, taking breaks is an important part of every schedule. You’ll feel more peaceful and creative in your writing if you set realistic daily goals for yourself — instead of deciding that you’re going to write 10,000 words in the few hours you have to write.
As I mentioned above, taking breaks is an important part of being productive. Your mind needs time to mentally reset after intense focus sessions. Do set aside time to take a break, and during them, spend time doing things that will keep you calm or enrich your life, rather than scrolling through your newsfeed.
A few great break ideas include:
Having a healthy snack
Adult coloring books or pages
Have Mental Health Days
Relaxing in bed, reading, or catching up on your Netflix ‘must-watch’ series are a few things you can do to unwind and take a break from thinking about all the stuff that’s going on outside of your control. Once you’ve had a day like this to reset, you’ll likely find that returning to your schedule and staying focused is much easier.
Or, if you can’t bear the thought of not making progress towards your writing goals for a whole day, spend some time working on your author website instead of focusing on your book.
Manage Your Exposure to the News/Social MediaThis is a big one.
During times like these, it’s important to be intentional about the way you use the news and social media feeds. There are horrible things happening and bad news is often addictive. It’s easy to fall into the trap of consuming it and doing nothing else. Dwelling on the ‘what ifs’ is human nature.
If you find yourself getting too worn down and need to take a break, here are some tools to help you:
Freedom.With Freedom, you can block distracting apps and websites that drain your productivity.
Moment.This app shows you how much screen time you have on your devices and coaches you to use them less.
This app doesn’t block or measure anything, but it does provide amazing focused music to play while you work. It’s pretty cool!
Try the Pomodoro Technique
This is a great method for increasing your productivity. It’s a technique that involves focused sets of time, intersected by smaller breaks. Basically, you shut off everything around you, write for a full 15 or 20 minutes, and then you take a quick break. After four or five of these focused sessions, you reward yourself with a longer break of 30 or 45 minutes before getting back to work.
Challenging yourself to beat your own score (word count) per session, is a great way to stay focused and increase the word count of your work in progress.
Staying Focused on Writing… DON’T
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the things you definitely should do to increase your productivity, let’s discuss what you shouldn’t do.
Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself
We’re already going through a pretty tough time, so bullying yourself about how little you’ve written will only make you feel less motivated and more guilty. And guilt is not a great motivator when it comes to writing. As I mentioned previously, taking breaks and mental health days is a good thing — it will help you regain clarity and focus. If you don’t hit your word count or other goals, think about adjustments you could make instead of beating yourself up.
Don't Burn Yourself Out
This goes hand in hand with being too hard on yourself. If you’re forcing yourself to stay at your writing computer without taking breaks, you’re going to burn yourself out. And that could sabotage your long-term productivity. Don’t force yourself to write when you’re already tired or in need of a break.
Final ThoughtsYou don’t have to spend energy worrying about the future or things that are out of your control. Focusing on your writing rather than the craziness this pandemic has brought on will help you regain control, push you toward your goal, and become a healthier, happier person in the long run.
Just remember to take breaks and take care of your mental health!
Dave Chesson is the book marketing Super-Nerd behind Kindlepreneur.com. His focus is on providing in-depth, actionable information for indie authors, such as his recent guide to book writing software. His free time is spent reading, immersing himself in sci-fi culture, and spending time with his family in Tennessee.
Image credits: Pixabay.com