Monday, January 14, 2019

Zoning In - by Brenda Chapman

Question: Real life happens around us while we play in the imaginary ones we create. How do you keep yourself in the writing zone and out of the ruts? Are there tricks to staying focused, especially at this time of year?  

Happy New Year, everyone! After a few weeks of entertaining, overeating and sleeping in, this week's question is most appropriate. 

The most effective way that I've found to keep my writing schedule on track is to have a minimum daily word count of 500 words that I adhere to as much as possible. I don't stress over those days when I can't get to the computer or have absolutely no desire to write, finding that a day or two away makes me come back refreshed and ready to go. Most days, once I get started writing, I easily slip into the zone so the trick is to sit down and focus.

This past holiday, I had a January 1st deadline for a manuscript that I'd been writing most of the year. Planning ahead led me to complete the first draft in November giving me the month of December to edit. I had the last version on my laptop so that I could easily work from anywhere in the house. I finished the third complete edit and submitted the manuscript on December 30th without missing any of the social gatherings that went on throughout the last two weeks of December. I simply fit in the editing work when I had time.

So, my tricks for staying in the writing zone are as follows:

1.  Work to a deadline, whether actual or self-imposed.
2.  Have a daily minimum word count that you exceed whenever possible.
3.  Work toward a writing routine but be flexible.
4.  Let your partner/family know that you have work to do that day - saying so aloud helps to firm up resolve and keeps them from asking you to do other things during writing time.
5.  Take breaks and do something active. I like to work out or go for a walk before I sit down at my desk.
6.  Read - I usually have a good book on the go and spend some breaks reading a page or chapter.
7.  Talk writing with other authors. Go to conferences and book events and stay inspired.
8.  Accept that your writing has value and don't be afraid to make it a priority in your life. 
9.  Take time to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Twitter: brendaAchapman
Facebook: BrendaChapmanAuthor


James W. Ziskin said...

Great post, Brenda. I need to follow some of these rules.


Paul D. Marks said...

A great list, Brenda. Good things to remember.

7 Criminal Minds said...

Thanks Jim and Paul - I'm interested to hear what other authors have to say this week about how they stay motivated.

Susan C Shea said...

And a special yes to #8 for me. To that end, I'm slipping off one non-preofit board this summer. The volunteer work I am responsible for has deeply impacted my writing time for the past 6 months.

7 Criminal Minds said...

Susan - Glad to help get you back on track :-)