Insecurity, distractions and FINDING FOCUS again while writing
Having trouble finding the time to write during the day because of interruptions or other distractions? Or fighting the urge to go look stuff up on Google during your writing sessions?
(hand waving weakly here)
This year I’m going back to writing first thing in the morning to learn how to focus again. I have no problem focusing when I’m illustrating, or doing nonfiction or blog writing. When I’m doing fiction writing, however, I find myself constantly distracted.
Part of this, I’m suspecting, is insecurity. My theory: my subconscious is yelling “if you finish this new book, you’re just going to get rejected again! I’m not going to let you finish!”
To my subconscious: I’M NOT GOING TO LET YOU TAKE CONTROL ANYMORE.
Julia Cameron suggests doing three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. I tried this some years back and while it worked for a bit, I just found the process of writing by hand too laborious; I’m so used to typing on the computer keyboard. I’m also aiming for a specific wordcount rather than number of pages. However, I love the basic idea so am adapting it for my own situation.
I’m trying to do some writing first thing in the morning, before anything else. I also gave this a shot early last year but got too easily distracted. Trying it again this year but instead of fighting the distractions and worries that crowd into my head as I’m writing, I’m EMBRACING IT. If I start getting the impulse to “just take a second” to go check something online, I put that into my stream-of-consciousness writing session instead (“Right now I’m fighting the urge to go look up xxxxx…”).
Sounds silly, I know, but it seems to satisfy the part of my brain that needs to do something about the thought RIGHT THEN AND THERE, so I can keep on writing about other things.
I’m also counting this as part of my Daily Words goal, which is currently 500 words/day. This morning I wrote 433 words but later today I’m going to do another writing session specifically for my own writing projects. I also find Ommwriter and Coffitivity help me focus. I’ve tried apps like Freedom, which turn off Internet access on my desktop computer, but I find it’s way too easy to hack them. :-\
Much better, I think, to try to change my habits rather than try to hide the shiny toy.
My hope: that the habit of writing first thing in the morning starts feeling more natural to me than my OoShinyToyMustGoogleIt and “just spend a few minutes checking social media” urges.
And if the morning stream-of-consciousness exercise feels like it’s becoming a regular habit, I’ll stop counting those words as being part of my Daily Words goal and just count my project writing. I’ll keep doing my morning warm-up, though.
If any of you are having the same issues as I am, I encourage you to try stream-of-consciousness writing, first thing in the morning. Let yourself write ANYTHING: poetry, fiction snippets, personalstuff, whatever pops into your head….just keep writing and DON’T leave whatever app you’re using to “just look something up” or check email.
Good luck! I’ll check in later in a month or two to let you know how I’ve been doing as well.