Thursday, February 12, 2009

How to Concentrate When Writing

Do you have trouble concentrating when you write? Do you find thoughts of anything and everything, from laundry to weekend activities, rush into your mind? I certainly do. I know part of it is the desire to procrastinate. But some of it is just life. Many of us have families and day jobs and homes to care for. These things take time and energy both physically and mentally. So how can you escape from all these things begging for your attention? Here are a few suggestions I've found helpful and I hope they will help you too.

Quiet outside distractions. Some distractions are simple to cut off - the TV for example - while others not so much, including family members or others in the house. If possible, find a room you can disappear into and close the door, or at least a space away from everyone. You might try leaving the house, going to a park or another place. I've even written in my car while parked outside a fast food joint. Sometimes just switching environments can make all the difference in your concentration level.

Put on background music. Light, non-intrusive music can help quiet the other thoughts in your head and help you to focus on the task at hand. I find lightweight classical music (Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach) and classic jazz make great companions. Whatever music you prefer, playing it softly can really help you get down to business.

Deal with one thing crowding your brain. If something keeps nagging me, sometimes I just get up and deal with it. I tell myself that I will fill the dishwasher and then I am under obligation to sit down and write. It's not always a good idea though. If you know that it's just a procrastination trick, it may be better to ignore it and keep writing. But if the task is important (you forgot to pay a bill), you may be better off taking care of it first. But make sure to make a deal with yourself that you're only doing that one thing because it's important. Don't let the tricky Procrastinator lure you away from your notebook!

So when it's hard to concentrate on writing, try to turn off or escape from external distractions, switch on some soft music, or take care of one task that won't leave you alone. Then sit down, take a deep breath, and put that pen to paper!

What helps you to concentrate when you're writing? Post your suggestions!


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