5 Ways To Focus On Writing When You Get Off Track

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The holidays were rough for writing, at least as far as my personal goals were concerned.  However, even though I had great family time with relatives and watched my children dig into their Christmas gifts un-distracted, I did manage to edit through my new WIP a couple of times.

But that’s 53,000+ words, Roger.  How on earth did you balance that time with the holiday festivities?

I’m glad you asked.

  1. Find the Spark – If you haven’t written for a while and your story feels dead in the water, then take the main character (since you know them so well) and start writing about them.  Don’t worry about whether it fits into the story or not, just start free writing about them.  I guarantee that in a few pages you will be well on your way to finding the creative spark that started you on the journey in the first place.
  2. Random Conflict – This one goes with #1 above, but why not write a short story about your main character by picking a conflict from this list and throwing that character into the thick of it.  See what happens.  I can guarantee it might change the way you see that character and cause you to have fresh eyes about your entire novel.
  3. Bum Glue and Fingers Moving – One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from a fellow writer who said “The only thing that will get your book written is bum glue and fingers moving.”  This is absolutely true.  I don’t believe in writer’s block, but I do believe in lazy writers.  You have to sit down, grab that laptop or pen or sit down at the desktop and get cracking.  That’s pretty much all there is to it.
  4. Set a Deadline – I always do this to myself.  One way that I forced myself to finish This Broken Earth, a 95,000 word tome, was to set a deadline on my blog with a countdown timer.  This put the integrity nanny to work.  I would get on the blog, write some type of post, and see that countdown glaring at me.  Of course, you have to do #5 after the deadline, which is key to success.
  5. Reward Yourself – When you set that deadline, plan for some type of awesome reward that is tangible and worth working for.  Perhaps you are saving up for a vacation or wanting to start reading a new book series?  Whatever it might be, ensure that it is something that you can look forward to doing.  I used to plan to finish my books by the 3rd weekend in September because that was the NHRA Drag Racing finals in Ennis, Texas.

I hope these tips help you get back on track.  First and foremost if you are a person who has neglected your novel, then don’t beat yourself up.  Get busy on it.  That novel isn’t going to write itself, and people around you are probably tired of you talking about it ad infinitum.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

4 thoughts on “5 Ways To Focus On Writing When You Get Off Track

  1. Great tips, Roger. I tend to follow, tip number one. In order to find that spark, I listen to some jazz for about 30 minutes, followed by a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Once I find myself jazzed up, I sit at the computer, ready to conquer the world. This clears up my cluttered mind, and rejuvenates my thought process. Good read. Blessings.

    1. I listen to ambient music on iTunes radio as I write. I often take walks to inspire me as well. Ahh we writers. There is something to that Romantic notion of woodland walks.

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