Are you an aspiring writer or a serious writer?
writer spends a lot of time thinking about writing, reading about
writing, talking about writing, but usually spends little time
participating in the act of writing.
People who are
more serious about the craft, well, they write often. For some writers,
that means being disciplined enough to write every day. I don’t
yet have that kind of discipline or time, and I don't particularly believe that as a serious writer you have to write every day, but I do think you should write often. It’s the only way you'll improve your skills.
also think an important step to becoming a serious writer is to
finish what you’re working on. It’s not always easy to finish a piece of
writing. There are plenty of reasons that keep a writer from finishing - self-doubt, distractions, lack of ideas, and lack of interest are
just a few that come to mind.
Here are some ideas to keep yourself focused on writing so you can transition from aspiring writer to serious writer.
1. Set Up A Writing Schedule. The
first thing you’ll want to do is designate a specific amount of time to
devote to writing each week, e.g., one or two hours a day every other day of
the week. Pencil this in on your calendar. Once you’ve come up with a
writing schedule that works for you, treat that time as though it’s your
part-time job. Even though you may not be getting paid yet, you still
want to act responsibly and take the “job” seriously. Don’t call in
sick! This isn't as easy as it sounds, but I'm working on it.
2. Do Only Writing-Related Activities During A Writing Session. This
time is for writing, not surfing the internet, not going through the
mail, or flipping through magazines. If during a particular writing
session you find yourself drawing a blank, try brainstorming ideas. Make
a list of topics you’re interested in. Then branch off and make a list
of subtopics for each topic. You’re bound to come up with an idea or two
for an article, blog post or even a short story. Keep a notebook with you at all
times to jot down ideas that spring to mind throughout the day. You’ll
be much more productive if you know ahead of time what you're going to
write about during a session.
3. Eliminate Distractions.
Turn your phone off. Tell your loved ones not to bug you during a writing time, and try to be nice about it when you do tell them. If necessary, set up your
work area in a room with a door for more privacy. If you find yourself
spending your time surfing the internet instead of writing (uh, guilty), turn the
computer off and do your writing with pen and paper. Once you get your
first draft completed on paper, then move to the computer to do your
4. Forget About the Quality of Your Work. This is a hard one for me, but don’t
think about using proper grammar, punctuation, or sentence structure in
your first draft. Just write. If you bog yourself down with being
perfect on the first go around, you will never finish anything. However,
you will accomplish beating yourself up, telling yourself you suck, and
most likely you’ll just give up completely (uh, again, guilty). Go into each writing
session knowing that what you will produce is going to be rewritten. Get
your ideas down on paper first. Once that first draft is finished, then
you can move on to the next step - polishing up your work.
These are some things I've been trying - not always succeeding at, but trying anyway. How about you? What do you do to stay focused on a writing project?