Sunday, January 3, 2010

Focus

Well, the in-laws have left, the holiday break is over, and it's time to get back to work. I'm going to start my 1000-word-a-day goal tomorrow morning and I'm looking forward to a month of productivity.

In order to meet my goal, I'm going to have to work on one of my biggest writing challenges: focus. Most of you parents of young children (or old children) know it can be really hard to get a few minutes of quiet time to write. Even when I do get quiet time, it's still difficult to turn off my mommy brain (which is wondering what I will make for dinner and how long I can put off mopping the kitchen floor), and turn on my writing brain (which needs to be focused on how my MC should react when he discovers his mom is an alien).

Sometimes it isn't too hard to get in "the zone." I start typing and immediately get wrapped up in the story. I could go for hours. But often I write a sentence or two and then I wonder if maybe I should check my email to see what my writer friends are up to. And, since I'm online anyway, I read a few blogs. Then maybe I read a few featured "news" articles, because I HAVE TO KNOW where the cast of Saved by the Bell is now. Before I know it my baby is up from his nap, and I've only written 25 words.

So yeah, I need to work on that. The first thing I'm going to do is UNPLUG the Internet until I have my 1000 words done tomorrow (which is good, because I'm pretty sure I could blow the whole morning catching up on No Kiss Blogfest posts--they'll have to be my reward for finishing).

Am I the only one with focus issues? Do you sometimes waste your writing time reading about the fascinating lives of washed up celebrities? Do you have any tricks to help you maintain focus while you write?

50 comments:

Mary Campbell said...

FOCUS! Yes, I need focus too. I was trying to do 1000 words a day and now I'm dropping down to 500. So many days go by where I don't right anything. If I do more great, but I'm shooting for at least 500. I bought a small notebook to carry around in my purse so that I can jot things down as I'm waiting. We do a lot of waiting as mothers. Good luck with your 1000.

L.T. Elliot said...

Ear Plugs. Oddly, they help me. So does music and turning off my internet. Sometimes the only thing that helps is typing "Idon'tknowwhattowriteIdon'tknowwhattowrite" until I do know what to write.

Your goals look pretty grand to me! I'm aiming for a word count goal, myself.

Patti said...

Focus, that's going to be my new motto for the year. FOCUS on everything.

Kristi Faith said...

Ah Yes, focus. I am so instant gratification...I blog, check email and analytics. Then I get some motherly duties done. (This is during my first cup of coffee and in between shepherding kids around to get ready for school and changing diapers) After I get half of my word count goal, I allow myself twenty minutes of free time. I even have been known to set a timer that will ding(otherwise, I'm gone) Then no more fun stuff til I finish the word count goal. I can't do "time" goals, because well.. kids, ya know :)

Sara McClung ♥ said...

Oh focus... How I wish I could catch you... SIGH.

Seriously though, I think most writers struggle with focus! I sure as heck do. And, okay, maybe this is my way of making an excuse... but sometimes I think we lose focus because somewhere in the subconscious different story arcs are working themselves out and the rest of our brains need a break while that happens?

Catherine Denton said...

Focus isn't hard for m--"Tuck you in?" I'll be right back. As I was saying, I'm like the eye of the tiger--"WHAT? No toilet paper?" Sorry, hold on. So anywaaaaay, the key is not allowing them to interrupt you--"Why is your leg stuck in the bunk bed rails?" Just a second. Okay, I'm back.

Ummm...What were we talking about?

Oh I remember. Nah, focus isn't a problem for me.

Lisa and Laura said...

I officially suck at focus. I literally have to have EVERYTHING else done before I can really focus on writing. Have you tried one of those programs that disables your internet for a few hours? I love it.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Writing with munchkins is uber-hard. That's why I only write at night. I can revise with her coloring nearby, but I can't write. My brain simply can't turn off until I know she's asleep and I won't be interrupted.

Good luck with your focusing!

Anita Saxena said...

Focus. It can be difficult to find when there is already so much on your plate. I'm trying to come up with a daily word goal. It's difficult to find that number that's challenging but still realistic. My problem is, since I'm doing like a fifth version rewrite, creating a solid outline this time around- that's a hard thing for me to find focus to do. I tried attacking the outline today. This is how far I got- "Chapter 1"
sigh.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I'm trying the write 1,000 words a day and at least half of that before blogging. I did it Friday, but Saturday was No-Kiss and I just rode that wave. Today I've written another 1k, though, so I'm doing just fine. I know there will be days it will work and days it won't but as long as it works most days that will be great. I am able to focus when I tell myself I really must, that I intend to keep the promise to myself. We'll see if I can make it a habit. Good luck with your plan!

Jade said...

No, I'm incredibly focused. This is me editing.

When I'm writing, I usually close down all my internet pages otherwise I'll get distracted every time I get an email from someone commenting on how awesome my blog is.

I'm trying to do 1k a day every day this year. Trying being the key word.

Janna Qualman said...

Are you sure you weren't talking about me with this post? 'Cause you had me convinced. ;) That's really me to a T.

I've tried the unplugging in mornings, until my 1000 is written. I fell off that wagon over the holidays, but will implement it again.

Good luck, Natalie!

Janna Qualman said...

It worked. I meant to say the unplugging really works!

The Blogger Girlz said...

I have a super hard time staying focused too! But try listing to your fav. music while you write, like songs from the T.V. show "Glee", that REALLY helps me! :) Good luck with reaching your word count/staying focused goals! :)

~Ella

Heather Sunseri said...

Wow, focus is so difficult when you're pulled in too many directions. I definitely think you're on the right track with unplugging.

Matt said...

Yeah, focus is hard. After thinking up great ideas in my sleep I should start writing straightaway, but...

I need to write in a windowless room with nothing but a desk and bare walls. No internet, no phone, no distractions.

Too bad I don't have one of those.

Jemi Fraser said...

If I'm writing the first draft, focus isn't an issue for me... usually. When I'm revising and editing it can be. Especially if I've got to rewrite a scene and I know it will affect the rest of the story.

Tia said...

I can't focus, either. Unplugging the internet sounds like an excellent idea. I may have to try it. :)

Vonna said...

I've never committed to a word count goal before, just chapter goals. I want to get more done this year, though, so I think I'll give the thousand words a try.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Oh goodness, you're not alone. My house has so many wired connections and wireless connections that I don't even know if I can "unplug" the internet. I guess that leaves me with utilizing good old-fashioned self-discipline. :-)

Marybeth Poppins said...

I have MAJOR focus issues. I may or may not have spent the last hour alone on reading blogs! And don't get me started on twitter!!!

So um...where is the whole cast of Saved by the Bell now????

Aubrie said...

People Magazine online is my biggest distraction along with blogging. I need to know where the cast of Saved By The Bell is!!! Please let me know!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I joined Twitter recently and have found that little chirping thing from Tweetdeck to be quite a distraction as I'm hacking away editing...

I hear ya.
~ Wendy

Linda Kage said...

I bet EVERYONE has focus issues. I know I do. Good luck with your 1K goal today.

V. S said...

I wish you luck on focusing! it can be a difficult task!

CKHB said...

Right there with ya. I'm not a celeb-follower, but reading a link to a link to a link to a link from one original blog... hey, where did my morning go?

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You are definitely NOT alone on this issue. What wouldn't we all give to be better at focusing? It is always a challenge for me. I try making daily goals, and then share them with someone else to hold myself accountable. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. :-)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I'm there with you. It's helpful that my family computer (with the Internet) isn't where I do my writing.

Susan R. Mills said...

I need to focus too. I find myself playing solitaire. I say just one game before I start writing, and before I know it, I've played ten or more.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Confession time, eh? Well, I don't read about celebs, but I have been known to let household chores take over my writing time once or twice, ... or more. Yes, I could use some more focus for 2010 as well.

Kelly Lyman said...

Oh my goodness! This is pretty much what I just blogged about! We are thinking alike. I need focus so much. I sat down today to edit and I ended up blogging and reading everyones else blogs. I was about to run some searches on google which have NOTHING to do with my WIP, but you've save me from that. I have a hard time focusing on editing AND finding balance between writing/running the house. At least you are thinking of mopping the floor.

Tracy said...

I know all about focus. The trick is learning to use it for something other than getting lost in someone else's book!

Amy Tate said...

Oh I totally relate! You know, I revised my first chapter all by hand! I have a recliner in my bedroom, and while the children played in the living room, I wrote in my notebook. I've never worked on revisions that way, and I was thrilled when I discovered I could do it. You should give it a try and see if it works. I'm just like you, if I turn on the computer, I end up reading email and blogs. But of course, that's fun too!

B.J. Anderson said...

I soooo have this problem!!Especially now that my little ones aren't always taking naps. My house looks like it got hit with a bazooka and sometimes my brain feels that way, too. I'm going to try harder this year to focus, as well, and I wish you much luck!

Thomas Taylor said...

I have focus issues until I have obsession issues. Then I just have issues.

For a time I wrote on an old IMac that was no longer connected to the internet and was stored in the attic. I'm thinking of doing it again. It's amazing what you can do when connecting to facebook isn't even a option.

Bane of Anubis said...

The internet is a 'focus' vortex.

Anissa said...

I am so with you. I can't even get enough focus together to fold the laundry!

Jamie D. said...

That's a big reason I write late at night (helps that I'm a night person) - I don't have kids, but I still need to have everything else "done" before I can focus on writing. Housework, dinner, dog care, and yes, even surfing/twitter/facebook/etc. I can do about 800 words max in a sitting...for some reason, that extra 200 words kills me.

Good luck with your goal this month - unplug and get to writing! :-)

Georgina said...

Twitter seems to be my time-waster these days. Microblogging they call it? Hardly! LOL! Good luck w/ the grand words a day. - G

destrella said...

I definitely have focus issues. Who knows what Screech is up to and I have the need to find out too! :O)

Erica said...

Yep. I have that problem too. Twitter is a huge distraction for me. It's funny. I get those random things in my head too like, where I saw the guy from that episode of Friends? I swear I look up movies and actors in IMDB at least once a day!

Here's to focus in 2010. Looks like we all could use that :o)

Melissa said...

Looks like lack of focus is a huge problem, and I'm no exception. I cannot get anything done during the day with the baby tearing up the house, so late night is my time to write. I've got to learn to write FIRST then have internet time.

Bethany Wiggins said...

My focus is editing my previous WIP so I can finish writing my current WIP. My kids are sick, too, so the focus is actually on them for now. Things never go as planned!

VR Barkowski said...

It's all about focus isn't it? So far I've met my 1k daily word goal, but it's crazy. I feel deprived because I'm denied the blogosphere and selfish because I'm shutting the door when I really should be doing the dishes!

Terri Tiffany said...

Raising my hand here. Good for you in making the pledge to write before going on line. I usually check the blogsphere and then write in the afternoon. Just not a morning person!

Shelby said...

my trick.. wait til everyone is out of the house. write.

listen to music. write some more.

get some coffee. write some more.

keep doing it.

Jody Hedlund said...

I'm doing the same thing, Natalie! I'm unplugging during my concentrated writing time. It's going to make it a little harder to visit all of the blogs that I normally do, but the writing has to take priority,right!

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Natalie, hopefully you won't see this right away if you're unplugged. I think it's crucial. But I honestly think all writers can relate to your affliction. It's sort of part of the game in some ways. The ways in which we procrastinate are, I think, helpful to us TO A POINT. Things are churning as we distract ourselves. That said, we can take it too far on a given day, and then we're toast. Balance is always the key. I wish you well! It is really tricky finding novel-length writing space when you are mothering. That is my number-one obstacle toward getting to the YA novel I'd like to write in the coming year. We'll have to keep one another in our mutual thoughts.

Tamika: said...

I share your sentiments! We all could stand to be more focused at one time or another. I'm learning to snatch snipets of time where ever I can. I carry my netbook everywhere!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Focus! Ha! I need help with that one too. It's hard to write, tweet, read and comment on blogs, check your email, etc., when trying to write. Very hard.

Just like you, I've set a 1000 word a day goal for myself. And, if all goes as planned, I'll be finished with my first draft in a few months.

Good luck, and if you find a good way to focus, please share your secret!