Concentrate!

How to focus on your writing.

I understand that it’s difficult for writers to concentrate on their writing. I, personally, have been distracted by text messages or the bizarre urge to play Robot Unicorn Attack for an hour or do three thousand Sudoku puzzles. These distractions are the easiest to be cured of, though–just put them in the other room when you’re writing.

The real problem, as I think we all know, is the constant catcalling of the Internet. It’s right there. Right there. Watching, waiting, ready to suck you in and time-warp you three hours into the future when your already disappointingly short window of writing time has swung shut.

“Write on paper!” some of you say.

“Bust out the typewriter!” you say.

Sometimes that does help, actually, but usually the computer is necessary. And after tons of time spent trying to devise the best way to stay focused, I think I have finally figured out the trick.

(NOTE: When I say “the trick,” I just mean what works for me. There’s tons of quality advice out there and although there’s much one can arm oneself with for this battle, it’s one all writers have to fight separately. This is just my contribution.)

1. Full Screen is the Best Invention Ever

The main component of being able to focus is blocking everything else out. It’s easier to not mess with your phone when it’s not in the room, right? The same idea applies here. Get everything you don’t need out of sight and it will get of your mind as well.

Every word processor in my experience has had some sort of full screen mode. Some are better than others, I’d say, but something is better than nothing. Right now I use a Mac and I have Pages, and it’s got the best full screen mode I’ve ever experienced.

2. The Document that Looks Like a Document is Your Enemy

Alternative Title:    2. Set the Mood

Imagination plays a big part here. Full screen mode isn’t enough to conquer Blank Page=Blank Head Syndrome. I’ve realized that if I pretend that my computer is not a computer, writing is easier.

That’s exaggeration. I know that I’m on my computer, but if I work to change the way it looks from the traditional white background with black text, I can at least set the mood and adjust my way of thinking. Here’s what my screen looks like when I write:

The Mood

The background is solid black, the red is pretty dim when I turn down the screen brightness (which I do considerably while I write), and the text is any font besides Times New Roman or Helvetica. I tested out a few styles, and I now write with this one every day.

I write in this document for a while and then copy the text into my WiP’s actual document. Then I delete everything from this one and do it again.

A major element of this idea, as I mentioned earlier, is imagination. When I’m writing like this, I pretend my computer can’t do anything besides process my words. It sounds silly, but it works. Try it sometime.

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3 responses to “Concentrate!

  1. Proof that I suck at resisting the internet cat calls: I was just starting to work on my draft when I saw this post and got decidedly distracted. I think I’ll try out this full screen option. Can’t believe I didn’t know about that.

    Hope it works and thanks for this post.

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