Five Ways to Focus Your Writing Time


Horses are majestic creatures and being around them has only increased my respect for them. As a city kid, however, my only memory of horses was seeing them wearing blinders. I thought it looked cruel, but my dad explained it protected the horse from being startled or scared by traffic and other distractions. The dictionary definition for blinders is: a pair of leather flaps attached to a horse’s bridle to curtail side vision. It focuses the horses vision strictly on the road ahead. This was on my thoughts a lot this week. We are so ADD anymore – thanks to technology – that we are unable to see the path ahead because of distractions like; the iPad, the iPhone, the iMac, the HiDef TV.  The list goes on but you get the idea. How can a writer ever stay focused? Put your blinders on.

Of course, you can’t bridle yourself to keep out the iPad, iPhone, etc. There are things you can do, however, to keep our social media world from derailing your writing.

1. There are a host of applications out there that will block you from the internet. Find a good one and use it earnestly. Yes, social media can be important to your career but only if you write long enough to have one.

2. Set specific times for social media and specific times for writing. Make these times known to everyone you know and never under punishment of death (you think I’m kidding?) break your own rules.

3. Schedule play time when you hit milestones. You want to hit 50,000 words by next Wednesday. If you do, have a luncheon planned with a friend or do it spontaneously. Just celebrate that you pulled it off. Overdoing it, by pushing on, can cause you to break down later.

4. Make sure you have a support system. It can be writer friends or a critique group or a supportive spouse or family member. Just engage them in keeping you honest. There’s nothing like having someone say, “Aren’t you supposed to be writing?”, to get you back to the desk.

5. Set timers. This is totally old school, but we are also very auditory today. Blame that on technology or music or whatever but sounds get our attention. You’re only going to linger on email for 30 minutes. Set the timer and set it with a truly obnoxious noise that will repeat until you get off and get busy.

While writing with blinders on isn’t a good idea as another definition of it is: something that serves to obscure clear perception and discernment, it is important to approach writing time with it. It allows you to remain focused on your goals and your work. And in the end it is all about the work. Don’t let the iPad, iPhone, iMac world we live in blind you to the importance of the story you are trying to tell.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Five Ways to Focus Your Writing Time

  1. This is really good advice. I belong to so many groups and each person has to comment on what the first one says, so it is a real waste of time going through all those emails for one that might contain a gem of writing wisdom. Time would be better spent writing.

  2. These are all great ideas for putting “blinders” on us as writers so we can get something done! I’ve turned off my email alerts for that very reason, but it’s still easy to run for the Internet icon when I run into a “stuck” spot in my writing. (Yeah, like someone will have emailed me within the last 20 minutes!)

    • Email is a killer of writing time. Especially if I have queries or submissions out. Of course, that’s my excuse for checking it hourly. Give me a break…

  3. I get my best writing done in a notebook outside and away from the computer. 🙂 Good tips.

  4. Great advice all around–and on an issue I’ve been struggling with recently. I’m gonna have try a few of your tips on for size and see how it goes.

    Great post! Happy Monday! 😀

  5. Great post! And very timely as I sit here reading blogs, email, and posting rather than the hour I planned to write. I do use the timer and it works well for me. Now to get my family on board as that support group!

  6. dawnall

    That’s a bit trickier…

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