Tag Archives: focus

Five Suggestions to Keep Writing From Turning Into a Chore

I’ll start this post with a caveat⁠—I admit that many of the posts in The Literary Game may sound quite trite; however, in such a creative profession as ours, sometimes we writers can easily lose our way, disregarding or forgetting the fundamentals.

When these fundamentals are lost, the wheels fall off of the wagon.

It’s my intention to help you keep that from happening.

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On that note, there is nothing more fundamental to the profession than for a writer to actually enjoy writing. It may sound strange to think otherwise, but many writers of immense potential simply stop writing. Far too often, it’s because the fundamentals were dismissed and frustration set in.

Without further ado, here are five suggestions that will keep writing from turning into a chore:

1. Master Your Life – If stresses from various situations in your life are bothering you, then the time and discipline that being a serious writer requires may seem like an unworthy imposition. Counterintuitive as it may seem, for writers whose lives are in turmoil, recognize that your basic needs should always come first and don’t feel obligated to write. If you can handle writing while your life is insane, go on and do it, but don’t feel guilty if you just simply can’t deal with it at the moment.

I want to add to this suggestion a quote from Doris Lessing, “Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” Follow her advice and don’t use MINOR problems as excuses, but unless you lead a charmed life, recognize that everyone faces difficulties all the time. I only suggest a break from writing if the difficulties are a threat to the physical or mental health of you and/or your loved ones.

2. Avoid overly rigid writing schedules – Everyone loves NaNoWriMo, but the pressure of a consistent writing routine that’s unbreakable can definitely turn writing into a chore. While I strongly advise writers to write on a regular basis (because the more you write, the better your writing will be), if you become more focused on the actual time slot than what you’re writing, the fun will quickly dissipate.

3. Avoid long absences from writing – With the exception of a situation that’s pressing, don’t go weeks at a time without writing. The best ideas flow and major improvement comes about from writing on a regular basis. Enjoy life, handle your responsibilities, but be sure to make time for writing too. Writers who stop writing for a while out of ennui or for other reasons often find it a chore to get back into the habit.

4. Depending on your personality, avoid writing-related jobs – Some people can only handle so much of something they love. I personally enjoy balancing time spent on my own writing with helping other writers by working as an editor and publishing consultant. That’s not for everyone though. Some people might really need to work in something totally different until they can support themselves from their creative writing alone, otherwise the constant focus on writing might burn them out.

5. Get social – Writing is a solitary profession. Unless you’re a complete introvert, the isolation of writing may start to wear on you. This is where a healthy social life, especially one featuring activities with other writers, can really help counter one of the profession’s biggest drawbacks.

Thank you for reading The Literary Game! If you found this post helpful, please help spread the word by sharing it on your blog or social media. Thanks! ~ Alfonso

Five Tips To Combat A Writer’s Worst Enemy – Procrastination

No, you don’t have ADHD, you’re just a writer…

Seriously though, giving into procrastination is one of the worst habits a writer can have; sadly, it’s quite common.

If your goal is to get your manuscript published, to have people read your work, to be financially free to make writing a full-time job—in short, to move beyond the label of “aspiring writer”—then you need to get cracking.

Throughout the time that I’ve operated The Literary Game, I keep referring to the 10,000 hours rule espoused by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers because it’s true. If you want to be a writer, you need to put the work in. The question then becomes how do you fight procrastination? It’s simple: realize what’s at stake. If you make excuses to not write, you won’t be a writer.

I certainly don’t expect my readers to be wholly devoid of any other responsibilities aside from writing. I expect that the vast majority have at least a few of the following in their lives: jobs, significant others, school, familial responsibilities, health issues, or a social life. Yes, it may seem like there’s simply no time to actually move forward in your writing career. That’s a lie.

If writing is your passion, you probably want to be recognized for it. You probably would love to have people read your writing. You probably would love to do it full-time. You can’t do any of those if you don’t actually write on a consistent basis.

But again, aside from sheer willpower and understanding the larger picture, how do you fight procrastination? Here are a few tips:

1. Embrace Love. If you’re not married or in a relationship, find love with someone who complements you. If you are married or in a relationship and it’s not providing you that spark, then fix your problems or move on. Love is a vitalizing force that can stir anyone past their natural limitations.

2. Sleep. This one’s simple. If you’re exhausted, your thinking will be muddled and your writing will be subpar. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night to keep yourself focused and positive.

3. Exercise. This one’s NOT a time waster. The energy you will receive from consistent exercising will offset the time spent. An added bonus of better health isn’t too bad either!

4. Realize That It’s A Process. Even if you work consistently to write while balancing all your other responsibilities, it may be a while before you move forward. Understand that and accept that anything worth it takes time to develop. Becoming a successful writer is no exception.

5. Eliminate Your Vices. Regardless of whether it’s something as serious as drug abuse or something seemingly innocuous like spending too much time on Facebook, take action to eliminate your vices. If you can’t do it alone, make sure to contact a friend, family member, loved one, or trained professional to help you along. The time saved from giving in to your vice can easily be transferred to your writing.

Thank you for reading. If you would be so kind, please help me publicize my blog by sharing this post on social media if you found my advice helpful.

-Alfonso

How to Focus as a Writer

I’ll let you in on a secret: the key to being a successful writer is focus.

Writing requires discipline at every stage of the game. Writing itself requires discipline, editing your work requires discipline, finding appropriate places to publish your work requires discipline, networking with writers and others involved in the literary world requires discipline.

If you want to succeed as a writer, you need to learn how to focus. 

Many writers resolve to write on a daily basis. Unfortunately, for many, this important practice is eventually shrugged off and forgotten as easily as a New Year’s resolution. You don’t want to be that type of writer. Those types of writers are WINOs—writers in name only.

Yet maintaining focus as a writer may be quite difficult. Here are a list of suggested ways to maintain your focus:

1. Keep in mind the end goal: getting your writing out there and connecting it with readers who will love your work. If your work remains in the aether or on your desktop, that won’t happen.

2. Have a set time devoted entirely to writing-related activities. This can be writing, editing, networking, or exploring publishing opportunities. Try to devote at least one hour to this every day. Devote more time during the weekend. Your determination will pay off.

3. When the inspiration strikes, write! If at all possible, stop what you’re doing and take advantage. Capitalizing on your bursts of inspiration will motivate you to persevere during normal times where it may be a bit more difficult to get the creative juices going.

4. If you are writing on your computer, I highly recommend listening to videos on YouTube that help individuals focus through binaural beats and isochronic tones. Make sure to use headphones and listen at a low volume.

5. Avoid overreacting to mundane annoyances in life. A writer shouldn’t get too high or too low about anything. Being an emotional rollercoaster will hinder your ability to focus.

6. Consider using Reiki or other relaxation practices to calm your nervous system down.