If you’re going to be a successful writer, you need to learn how to focus when it’s time to work. You might have heard that creative people are often polymaths who tend to get pulled in different directions at the same time, but to put your best efforts into your writing, focus is key.
What is focus?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines focus as the simple act of directing one’s attention or efforts at something specific. Focus in writing may be understood in different contexts, the first of which is the ability to fully concentrate on the task at hand. Focus may also be understood as a feature of effective writing that enables a writer to establish and sustain a single topic throughout a piece. This article is more concerned with the former, but of course, focus in the first context also affects the latter.
Why is it so difficult to focus?
We’ve conditioned our minds to believe that multitasking is good for us and have been convinced of the myth that multitasking makes us achieve more and work faster in a fast-paced world. However, research has proven that this approach is not only detrimental to the task at-hand but also for the health of the brain. Dividing your attention and jumping from one task or activity to another makes it more difficult to stay on a single task for a prolonged period of time.
We’re also constantly bombarded with sensory stimuli, like TVs, mobile phones, and of course the internet. When we fail to be disciplined about a task, we find ourselves relying on our phones for a distraction right in the middle of what we’re doing.
Other reasons for a persistent lack of focus include fatigue and stress. Both of these feelings are a result of unhealthy habits, indiscipline, procrastination, and poor time management practices. When you’re unable to finish a task on time, you may end up ruminating about the deadline, which cuts into sleep time leaving you tired and in a foggy, unproductive state. It’s like a domino effect that continues to spill over into every following day until the problem is addressed.
How to focus better
- Banish distractions
The first step to focusing better as a writer is to get rid of all possible distractions, whether that means your phone, tv, or any other screen devices. This requires some discipline but can be done once you have the right mindset. Turn off the sound and vibration on your phone and hide the TV remote.
- Take more breaks
Write for about 2 hours and then give yourself a 10-minute break. Use this time to reward yourself by eating lunch, taking your dog for a walk, or doing something mindful that can help switch your brain off. It must be a restful activity that doesn’t include checking social media.
- Try nootropics
Some people may greatly benefit from getting a bit of a brain boost from nootropics. They’re safe when used with the proper guidance from a nootropics expert who has a thorough understanding of how they work. Always make sure to consult your doctor before trying any new health supplement.
- Don’t edit yet
To remain focused on writing, try not to edit as you write or during breaks. It’s more important to just get the words down on paper and edit after—that way you can stay totally focused and organized. Editing during the writing process might also make you feel frustrated and nitpicky, which might lead you to writer’s block.