10 Tips To Focus On Writing

Life has become extremely hectic during the past decades. With the current development of technology, which, by the way, can be extremely helpful, in particular to us writers, it can as well be an enormous distraction. I caught myself so many times surfing through the internet, checking this or that social media account before writing, that, at the end of the day I had updated my accounts but haven’t written one single word.

According to scientists, the current average human attention span is around 8 seconds, which means, we are in fact, almost as low as a goldfish.

I was reading myself through psychological essays, meditation websites and a few other interesting pages for support on how to focus until I finally decided I needed my list of tips and tricks.

I am a writer, and besides being distracted by household things, health issues, cat stuff and social media, I love spending time outside… which, I finally realized, was one of the ways to focus on writing.

1. Spend time outside

Spend time outside. Maybe by going for a nice walk or enjoying the sunshine or taking a swim and thinking about your story, it will give you ideas you need to write down as soon as your back on your computer.

2. Work offline

Work offline. It will help you not to go on ‘checking’ on social media, and you can concentrate on your writing.

3. To-Do lists

Make two to-do lists. One for your regular day-by-day things and one for writing (and blogging). Make sure you don’t mix them up, but you need to block some time on your daily to-do list to keep some time for your writing.

4. Work spot

Look for your own silent work spot. Make sure you have a clean desk that doesn’t distract you and start your work. Enjoy and embrace the silence and, if necessary, keep the door closed.

5. Music

Help to focus on your work by listening to music you like. It will also help you to tune out the background noise that might distract you from your writing goal.

6. Big and small goals

Break down big goals into smaller ones. They’re easier to reach, and if you feel you are prepared and ready for the next goal, after a break you still can sit down and start to work on your next goal.

7. Breaks

Breaks! Allow yourself breaks in between your goals. Nothing is as relaxing as a break. It will refresh and reboot your brain. Just don’t forget to close the door again after you return to work.

8. Coffee

Caffeine helps to support your focus. It will wake you up, and while enjoying the warm, dark and spicy liquid in your cup your head is already on its way to your story. (You might ask, why does the coffee only make number eight? Well, I figure since we writers usually start our day with coffee, oral or by injection, I thought it doesn’t need to top this list.)

9. A Good Night’s Sleep

Live a healthy life with plenty of sleep. From what I read over the past few hours, many people are satisfied with only a few hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately being tired and confused in the morning after a lack of sleep, this might interfere with your ability to focus. Make sure you got plenty of sleep, with an average of 7 – 8 hours a night.

10. Keep your moods out

Keep work at work, frustration, and anger outside your work spot. Many writers do have a day job and don’t live off writing. To keep the focus on what you like to do, make sure you are relaxed and calm and left work at the office (or wherever) and blend out anger and frustration. It interferes with your writing.

Extra-tip: Certain food types might support the ability to focus. I figure to find out if that’s helpful, you will need to try: Blueberries, green tea, avocados, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, water, dark chocolate, flax seeds, and nuts.

Picture courtesy of: https://www.liftlearning.ca/areas-of-focus/

Writing And Music

In my January Newsletter, right at the end, I added a link to a YouTube video. It leads to the ‘Waltz of Flowers’, composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, an amazing, wonderful and heart touching piece of music in my opinion.

(Just in case: You can listen to the music here)

But where do I go with this post? I had been considering writing about all the music I listened to while writing – but that’s not the case today.

First of all: I write my first drafts by hand – always. After I finish them, I type them into my computer. During writing, I never listen to music. It distracts me. But during typing in I do.

Today I want something different. While typing and listening to this amazing waltz I re-read and corrected a fighting scene in my book, and I asked myself: if this would be turned into a movie, what music would be playing during this particular fighting scene?

Oh yes, it’s easy as eating an apple to find the matching sound for a kissing couple, a romantic dinner or a love scene.

But a fight? That’s different. I got the fight in my head… monsters, demons, shadows, against a tracker and a hunter… magical creatures, good against evil!

They meet up in the mountains, between jagged rocks, dangerous winds, and storms and groundless abysses. The bloodthirsty mood is covering the entire scenery, no matter how ‘civilized’ the opponents try to act, suppressed violence is making their foul blood boiling…

And I found it, yes. The music that is supposed to cover the reader’s (or watcher’s) skin with goosebumps. The music that shows the brutality of the attack which injures one of my protagonists so badly, death is holding out its horrible claws.

picture courtesy of http://www.google.com

It’s a section of Havergal Brian’s Gothic Symphony. I was lucky and able to find just the part I need on YouTube. Of course, you just enter the composer’s name and Gothic Symphony and will be able to listen to the entire mammoth piece. To me, the entire symphony is too dark to listen to – but to my dark battle scene, it is just the right music.

Did you write a scene you imagined music for? Or do you know a movie after a book which’s music you like? Let us know in the comments.

Creativity at Starbucks

Picture courtesy of: http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/frappuccino-blended-beverages
Picture courtesy of: http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/frappuccino-blended-beverages

 

 

Why is working at Starbucks positive to people’s creativity?

 

This blog post is the result of intense personal field research. And I, of course, wonder if I’m the only writer who has made the same experiences.

 

When I go to Starbucks (which isn’t ever too often, because I think their coffee and the food is significantly overpriced) I see young students, older students, graphic designers, painters, drawers, fashion designers, readers and, of course, writers.

 

I talked to quite some of them and very often got the same answer to my question: aren’t you disturbed or bothered by the sound of the coffee machines, the voices, the distraction, the noise? – No, in fact, at every other place all the background sound bothers me, but not at Starbucks.

 

How come?

 

While writing this blog post, I, in fact, am sitting in Nashville-Green Hills Mall Starbucks and watching people carefully. Next to me on the table is a Venti Mocha Frappuccino (with Whipped Cream of course) and I’m sipping my way through this blog post.

 

On my left, just by the wall, there’s a young man, designing T-Shirts. On my left, there’s a young girl, maybe close to twenty, seemingly to get homework done. (Maybe she’s, in fact, chatting with her boyfriend, I can’t tell for sure, but her smile tells me a lot) It is 12:10 pm and there aren’t many people, but it seems everyone in here is either reading or typing, and I’m having tons of fun watching people…

 

As much fun as this all seems it doesn’t necessarily satisfy my curiosity: Why do people seem to be so creative at Starbucks? Is it the easy access to excellent (unusual) coffee? Is it the feeling to share this creativity with others, being as hard to distract by noise? (Unless it’s the screaming and crying of pretty annoying little children) If misbehaved kids are cruising around, it seems quite obvious: they are an unwelcome distraction and many of the Starbucks at home- creative artists will pack up and disappear. Or, and that’s part of what makes me think: can it be that Creativity is contagious? Do people feel creativity, or catch a wave of creativity and surf on it?

I’m not even sure I can do that. With me, either creativity is on, or off, but I cannot “find a wave” of it and ride on it. Maybe others can.

 

Do I feel more creative at Starbucks? Sometimes I am. (As can easily be seen by this blog post) But there are other days, I need to leave. It strongly depends on my mood. But I also have to admit: Most of the time I am quite creative at Starbucks, probably because I’ve hardly ever got time to sit down and get some writing done in a Starbucks. Unless it was for creative’s sake, like in this particular blog post related field research.

 

Talking about this particular research: It has cost me around $40 to properly and carefully watch people at different Starbucks spots and give out a result I can stand behind after my best knowledge and belief.

 

Besides: Their Mocha Frappuccino is just a drink for Gods. (Which makes me ask myself why I do get chocolate decoration onto the whipped cream when ordering one in California, but not when I have one in Nashville – or New York? But that’s of course only a detail.)

 

Now, please help me out: are you particularly creative at Starbucks? And if yes, have you ever found out why that is? Are there other places you are unusually creative at? Thanks for letting us know.

 

(written, January 5, 2016, Mall at Green Hills, Nashville, Tennessee – Aurora Jean Alexander)

Writing, distraction and bad moods

Picture courtesy of: http://kwbunyap.deviantart.com/art/terminator-smiley-face-268120576
Picture courtesy of: http://kwbunyap.deviantart.com/art/terminator-smiley-face-268120576

 

 

Can you write when you’re in an extremely bad mood? When you’re distracted, when someone tries to annoy you purposely? I’m talking about turning music on he/she knows exactly you hate and that you can’t concentrate when this shit is screaming and yodeling out of the radio.

Can you concentrate on writing when this person is constantly interrupting your flow by blabbing out about something just MORE than uninteresting or blurting out insults to you in beautiful regularity? 

See? That’s why I have difficulties to get anything halfway useful onto my paper for nearly two weeks. 

I love to be in company; I’m a quite social person. And I don’t even mind writing in an overcrowded Starbucks with background noise. That, at least, can be tuned out! But if someone sits across the table and permanently interrupts me – and if I try to keep the flow, yells insults at me like I’m a 5-year-old for not replying, then I’m having problems. 

I can write and deeply sink into my story, but not when I’m permanently distracted in particular by someone who is not supportive and tells me clearly my writing is just a waste of time and that I better would use the time cleaning my place. 

Sadly moments like this aren’t very helpful to a writer newbie and are only strengthening self-doubts. 

How can I avoid being hurt and distracted like this? How can I guarantee that my writing is still as good as I hope it would be? How is it possible for writers to keep in the flow and in the mood to write something useful if there are people like this around?

Am I the only one facing problems like this?

And if not: How do other writers handle situations like that? 

Is there advice or any helpful hint or trick I can follow to keep my writing on track?  

I don’t want to give up. I have always dreamed of being a writer… and I finally am concentrating and working on my dream… and still it seems there are some artificially produced hindrances who want to destroy that dream – and destroy me. 

Is there a way anyone can help me with? Thank you so much for your support!

 

Picture courtesy of: http://quotesgram.com/bad-mood-quotes/#ksawJintJS
Picture courtesy of: http://quotesgram.com/bad-mood-quotes/#ksawJintJS