10 Tips To Cut Out Distractions And Just Write

There are many amazing tools we writers have today. We also have a dozen more hats to wear. Not only are we the author but also the editor, publicist, marketer, and distributor. We have limited time to produce our work and more demands than ever.

Ten

Thankfully, the way books get written has been the same since people started writing. We need to put our rears in our chairs and write. Below are ten tips to just write and cut out the clutter.

  1. Have designate social media time and writing time. Separating the two times may be difficult but doing the most important task first means we are always guaranteed to finish out work. Then we can get to the platform building.
  2. Turn off your WiFi. If you don’t allow access to email or internet, you won’t get distracted, hopefully.
  3. Write at a library. Writing at home or coffee shop can be distracting. A library has low traffic and is almost always quiet.
  4. Have time planned out in advance. If you write down your writing time on your calendar it can be a great motivator to actually do it at that time.
  5. Write with pen and paper. I like to do this because there is no chance of wandering. It can be slower, but when I transcribe the words it is usually my first edit, which is a nice process.
  6. Have a designated writing machine. If you have a tablet and desktop and laptop, make one for writing and one for social media. This way you won’t have the social media or other data just the documents you need to write.
  7. Take breaks. This seems counter intuitive but I can only be productive for short bursts and not hours. Sometimes I write for forty five minutes and then go fold some laundry.
  8. Reward yourself. The same as number 7 but with a good twist. Your break is a snack or walk in the woods. Maybe just being quiet with a cup of coffee.
  9. Have a word count goal. Write 1000 words in a sitting. Then get to whatever it is you need to get done.
  10. Set a timer. The Pomodoro method is one example. Write for twenty minutes then take a five minute break. All using a timer. This helps me focus on writing time and break time when it comes and I do not tax my mind too much.

Do you have techniques that help you “just write” and stay focused? Please share below!

Should You Throw In The Towel Or Try Harder?

Earlier this year I decided my blog wasn’t working. I didn’t like the look of it. I didn’t like the plug ins, my photo, the header, or even the font. It was supposed to be an outlet to help and connect with other struggling writers.

But it was terrible. I was done.

I knew that I wasn’t a blogger.

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Then I had a realization that cut me deeply. It wasn’t that my blog wasn’t working but that I was giving it as much thought and attention as I give my hair each morning. This was not the time to throw in the towel, it was time to go to blogging school and get back to work, if I so desired.

Back in March I stopped blogging and wrote on my new novel. When I needed a break I’d read books about blogging. I watched videos of the bloggers I admired and examined their websites. I looked to the pros and tried to take what they did each week and each month into consideration.

After much deliberation I knew it was time to pick a date. I was tired of not investing in my platform and the bloggers I enjoy connecting with. I set a date of August, and started on a rebuild.

The important thing I learned from this is that a casual attempt at anything will get the result it deserves. And even if I never get to where I want to be with a project, I want to be satisfied with my effort before I close the book.

Are you unsatisfied with the results you are getting with your blog, book, or career? If so, is it time to close the book and be satisfied with your efforts, or have you not really tried at all and it’s time to dig deeper?

How To Always Have Something To Write About

Do you have that writer friend that is an amazing blogger, short story writer, or novelist? Yeah, I’ve disowned that person too.

I am in awe of the constant do-er, the everdayer, the consummate professional who always seems to have something to write about.

I struggled with this for a while as I reviewed my plan for my blog re-launch. How will I be able to sustain a pace and not give up like the pros?

Photo Credit: kpkelly53 via Compfight cc

A few months ago, I started seeking out the top echelon of successful bloggers and platform builders. I found a lot of people I admire. You know what else I found out? They all knew each other.

Part of this should not have been a surprise. Once you reach a certain level of anything you want to be with people who have done the same thing. If you play a sport for two decades and want to grow, you can’t do so playing with a first timer. You have to compete with those at your level.

But this was not the main take away from this search. The real point was that they were all conversing about similar topics. And they talked amongst each other on one another’s blog or podcast or Vlog. They endorse each other’s books and attend each other’s book launch.

This gave me a huge nugget of insight. Conversation. This is what blogging, or any art, is about. Interaction, digging deeper into subjects, and then coming away with a response is all part of being an artist. Suddenly I found myself furiously writing down responses or ideas that sprung to mind when I interacted with them.

This is the key to blogging. You want to be a novelist? Read books about authors, by your favorite authors, and write about them. Your answer could be what you’ve learned, things you’d do differently, or ideas for books you may have. Stuff your head full of this material.

Art is not expression in a vacuum. It’s reciprocal.

So get in the conversation. Part of it is listening well. The other part is responding. If you do this, you’ll never run out of things to say.

Writer, It’s Your Turn

As a husband, parent of three (going on four in November), full time cubicle dweller, and writer, I know what it’s like to be busy. I also know what it’s like to have these important and life giving things crash into each other and all over my writing goals.

SpotlightBut I realized something lately – I’ve been waiting : For the perfect time, the perfect idea, and the perfect platform to go after the writing life I crave – more time with the kids, chances to meet other authors, and spread a message to websites yet un-pitched.

But we cannot wait. Life is a current and we need to swim.

I’ve been waiting for someone to tell me that I am an author and that I can have permission to chase it. Affirmation is wonderful but the life of an author is one of constant rejection and resistance. It is also the life of trailblazers not ones who keep trying the first ten feet of path after path and turning back when it doesn’t feel right.

Don’t delay anymore friend.

You are a writer.

Claim it.

Live a life that speaks it.

On Building A Passion Into A Discipline

Doesn’t Everyone Like This Too?

Have you ever loved a music album or book and thought, if only other people could hear it or read it they would love it? But then they don’t love it and you wonder how in the world that could happen?

This is how I feel about writing. I love it. I’m passionate about it. I could do it all day or night, and while I’d get tired eventually, I would certainly not tire of writing. When I had this thought for the first time I realized that writing is one of my passions and not everyone is passionate about the same thing.

Passions Are Unique

My wife likes math and has talked of possibly pursuing accountancy once the kids are a little older. I love my wife. More than anything in the world. But math, in nearly any form, makes me about as excited as I would be for a root canal.

I love that I’ve found my passion. Take a moment and think about yours. All of us have them. Usually, they are something in our wheelhouse, something we have some latent talent in. And they most certainly are something ingrained, that we enjoy.

It’s Up To You To Work At It

I dream about becoming a novelist. But I cannot just dream about it. I must take this unique passion I have and work at it. And work hard. I find so much joy and satisfaction from it and never want to cease doing it.

This requires discipline.

It requires showing up, maybe not here on my blog everyday, but movement toward my goal everyday.

I won’t be satisfied until I have that constant effort.

Cheers,

Bob

Excuses – And Why They’re Your Fault

I can think of a billion reasons why I have not sold a novel or taken over the literary world. Is it because I am bad? Lazy? I don’t think so. It’s because I constantly throw stupid hurdles in my path just like you.

They’re called excuses.

  • I’m too tired.
  • The yard needs raking.
  • I don’t have a good idea yet.
  • I’m waiting for inspiration to strike!
  • I have to do laundry.
  • I can never been like xyz writer. So why bother?
  • I’m bad at grammar.
  • I’m not smart enough.
  • My novel is terrible.
  • I just don’t have enough/adequate time.

Leaves
A picture of someone else’s backyard. I’m too ashamed to show my own.

Some of these are responsibilities. You should see my yard. It needs raking.

But why is it so easy to create this list?

I believe, if we are honest, we are the ones permitting ourselves to stop pursing our dreams. Whether you want to be a novelist or news anchor, it’s so much easier making excuses or finding other things to do.

But if it is the thing we love, the thing we long for and maybe even hold inside because we are too worried about what people with think or say if we uttered it aloud, we must stop this excuse business. Stop it now.

It’s up to you my friend. Are you going to keep making excuses or go and get the life you want?

Me?

I’m going to publish books.

Cheers,

Bob

Novelist, Do You Use Visuals?

I am huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. I love his wild genius and untamed spirit combined with the relentlessness he uses to solve a case. Now, I understand this is fiction, but those abilities are quite attractive to the would-be novelist.

Though I don’t have these super powers, I can incorporate some of his tricks to my writing life, and so can you.

One such practice that has assisted my progress lately is having a white board where my I can take in my tasks, ideas, and notes at a glance. I can keep track of my tasks of the week and erase them when I am done, which is tremendously rewarding and gives me a hunger to attack another. I am able to pause after a furious fit of writing to check on the direction of my current chapter to make sure it is on target.

This does not have to be an expensive endeavor, my wife surprised me with the cardboardesque wipe boards (because she is awesome) and some dry erase markers (more awesomeness) for about $10.00. Not bad.

So writer, do you use visuals? If so, please share below!

Cheers,

Bob

Jot Presenter Interview – What Novelists Can Learn From Screenwriters

Get ready West Michigan. Jot 3 the GR mini writers conference is next week March 14th!

We have reached out to each presenter for an interview to help the audience get to know them better before the conference. Even if you are not in West Michigan, or on this side of the world, I wanted to include the information here on my blog.

For the ful list of presenters, please go here.jot

The link to Indie author Thomas McClurg’s interview on What Novelists Can Learn from Screenwriters is here.

We hope to see you at the conference!

Cheers,

Bob

Daddy No Sleep

Nearly every morning my kids wake up early. When one does, they all do. It’s sort of like a really fun game. Only now when I think about it, it’s not really that fun. There have been times were I’ve stayed up late writing the night before and then get woken up by screams of “MAMA DADDY MAMA DADDY!” Followed by our oldest saying “Mama, I think Clara wants daddy.” I flop out of bed and rescue our middle child from the confines of her crib and head into the dark living room.

I wanted to write this post not because I am a terrible father and want to complain about sleep deprivation, but because I realize I sometimes set myself up to fail with my writing goals. I blame this on Robert Downey Junior, Guy Ritchie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and even a little bit on Margaret Thatcher.

Let me explain.

Margaret Thatcher
She does look a wee bit tired.

Before we had kids, there was a time when I woke up at 5:30 to write every Saturday morning. Think about that. I had a good three to four hours all to myself where my thoughts were clear and my mind raced with one brilliant plot line after another (or so I thought). So, when I watched the first Sherlock Holmes film by Guy Ritchie starring Robert Downey Jr., I was immediately enamored by his ability to cast sleep aside and finish a task with a flourish. I thought this must be the best way to produce a novel – write with a feverish, reckless abandon.

The problem with this is obvious. That is Hollywood. That is not real. No one can repel sleep for days while sorting out a problem. They’d go insane. Right? Well, then theirs Margaret Thatcher. Ever read her biography or watched the film Iron Lady? She was a real person (obviously) who supposedly slept four to five hours a night and still ran a country. I’m having trouble with this blog post. Perhaps we are on different plains of brilliance and I need to be OK with that. Or, maybe I am dead wrong with the method that works best at this point in my life.

I find I write best when I am awake. Strange. When I am well rested and have accomplished things during the day I can go downstairs to my desk and write something. My creative well is full from a life lived and a decent amount of sleep. I realize now that instead of staying up late for a few days in a row and then crashing, its best if I sleep for several days in a row then stay up late once. Burning out is not an option. I have a wife to love, children to raise, and a day job.

This might sound simple to you, like a math problem, but I hate math. Reading and comprehension I can do. And to do them successfully, I must be well rested.

How about you? What have you done with your schedule to improve yourself as a writer? Have you ever tested how you work best? Do you stay up all night or do you conserve your energy for a controlled writing burst?

Write 500 words today.

Cheers,

Bob

What Makes A Good Story Good?

What makes a story good? If you surveyed your reading friends you would probably get many different answers:

  • Characters
  • Time Period
  • Author’s voice/writing style
  • Action
  • Plot points
  • Topic
  • Because of the person who wrote it

The list could go on and on and chances are you thought of many more reasons why a story is good. This question and its answer is of particular interest to the novelist. We authors write because we like to write, simple as that. But what if our work comes to nothing? Not that is has to be a best seller or even published for that matter, but we at least want our work to be solid and relevant, right?

So I have created a survey below to ask you what makes a story good and why you would be compelled to recommend it to others.

If your reason is not included in the poll, please select “other” and elaborate below.

Cheers,

Bob