As we work on book 3 in the Necromancers’ Pride Saga, Storm of Shadows, I am constantly reminded of how many obstacles there are to keeping focused on the task at hand. Meetings, errands, blogs, honey-do’s (far more do’s than you would think once you are married), familial obligations and business concerns are not only prevalent, they seem to multiply exponentially when you place deadlines on yourself. It seems as though the more you commit to doing, the more there is that is committed unto you.
Now, it is good to be busy, but come on, there has to be a way to get through it all, right? Well, there is indeed. However, it is not a magical cure all. Believe me, if it were, I would have had Velladriana cast the spell on me long ago. One thing I envy about D.W. (no, it is not his looks, trust me on that) is his ability to keep his focus and drive strong in the face of any and all obstacles. How does he do it? Well, he has a plan and he sticks to it. Having said that, I have a few tips for you to employ when focus gets fuzzy and life wants to get in the way. These tips help me, hopefully they will do the same for you.
- Listen to genre specific music. Writing a romance novel? You wouldn’t listen to Eye of the Tiger to get you in the mood, would you? Well, I might, but I am a very strange person. What about a suspense thriller? Just as in the movies, the soundtrack to your novel can help you create the mood you wish your readers to feel. Since fantasy is my passion, film scores from some of my favorite movies in that genre help me instantly transport myself to a mindset wherein I may leave this world behind and enter realms where dragons roam and fairies dance. Try this tip for a diversion from all other forms of media that are trying to pull your attention away from your craft.
- Turn off e-mail and IM. Seems like an easy one, but this time suck creeps up on the most steadfast of writers. Let your world be your companion. Disconnect for a time, even if that is just an hour, to allow yourself an uninterrupted flow. You will find that just the act of writing will focus you on the writing. Sometimes just striking the keys will invigorate you and get you on the creative path. Your friends and business associates will still be there when you are done, trust me.
- Change your environment. We are creative beings. Often, that creativity is fueled by the inspiration of being in a new place. If you always write at your desk, for example, and find yourself dreading that familiar faux-leather chair, you may want to change it up. Go to a coffee shop (cliche, I know, but it still works), a park, or just try another room. You will feel invigorated for no other reason than you are in a different place. You will find that your usual chair will feel far cozier when you return to its loving embrace.
- Work in blocks of time. Let us say you plan to write today. Block out some time. OK, you have four hours free. Time block: check. Hour one, refer to tip 2 and turn off e-mail and IM. Hour two: power session. Write as fast as you can and let spell check clean up the damage later. Hours three and four: Set an hourly word count and work to reach it. You will find that by blocking your time to specific goals, it will give you control over the creative process. We all do things differently. Everyone creates in their own way, that is the beauty of it. With this tip, you can feel as though you are in charge of how you create. You dictate the terms, as opposed to letting those blank pages dictate to you.
- Give yourself permission to have fun. This is the simplest and most important tip of them all. Writing is fun, right? Art is amazing in its creation, correct? At least, it should be. Even with the deadlines, obligations and time constraints, make sure you are deriving enjoyment from what you create. Laugh like a child, revel in your mistakes and remember, you are talented. To be successful takes determination. To stay determined takes passion. To be passionate you must enjoy what you are doing.
There. Those are some tips D.W and I have learned as we have written Quest for Elderstone and Tides of War. We utilize those tips as we work on Storm of Shadows. Give them a try when you feel your focus starting to slip.
What tips can you add to this list?
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