Peggy Bechko: The Writer’s Life – And the need for Focus

by PeggyBechko

It’s astonishing how many distractions there are in the world these days – throw into that procrastination (a writer’s biggest nemesis) and it can be a cruel world for the writer. But we’re going to ignore that old side-kick procrastination and think about focus despite the fact the two of them do go hand in hand.

Focus can lead to great things. Lack of it can truly disrupt the creative flow. Once you’re focused and can maintain that focus the work will flow smoothly and swiftly. It’s almost intangible and yet when we’re ‘in the zone’ we all know it. I mean…

[oops, got to go open a window…on the other side of the house…it’s stuffy as I write this]

…what writer hasn’t felt that ‘locked in’ feeling. The one when one sentence follows another in perfect synergy. When the flow is perfect and we imagine nothing could possibly derail the creative force.

[hmm, gotta change my ink cartridge, even though I’m not printing – be right back]

So, ahem, focus is key. That ability to continue working – mind fixed like a laser on the work at hand; creating a story any studio or publisher will be mad to get…

[uh oh, just look at that wall – the plant was overwatered and the stain is a streak on the wall. Wonder if I need to paint that]

Oh, sorry, where was I? Ah, yes, focus. There are writers who need total silence to focus – others who like music – or, like me, enjoy birds tweeting in the background. Whatever it takes in order to focus and block out the rest of the world while writing – do it. Don’t give in to what takes your attention off the script or manuscript at hand.

[uh, oh, my night to cook, day has just burned away – husband won’t mind cooking instead – oh, wait, he did last night and he’s going to mind…a lot… if I don’t have a legit deadline; which I don’t, sigh]

Every time focus is broken it’s like booting up all over again. It isn’t just the time lost from the distraction – it’s the time needed to realign thoughts, to get back into the flow. If you need to take a break, take a break. But, don’t let everyday distractions take away from your focus. Here are just a few ways to keep yourself focused.

First block out any time you intend to write. Be reasonable – you aren’t going to write for twelve hours straight. Focus on two or three. A little longer is okay but let’s not press it past six hours. You’ll get unproductive fast. And give yourself some breaks. See that two or three hours I mentioned above? Yeah, that’s about right. Then take a break of at least fifteen minutes. Go for a walk, do something, get away from your computer. No, you can’t surf or check email. Really get away.

Next, and I’ve said this before, turn off things you’re likely to find distracting like your social media. Ban distractions. Unless you’re expecting an email with a great writing gig offer shut it down.

We’re all guilty of it – editing while we write. Don’t do it. You’ll have plenty of time to edit later. It’s yet another distraction, thinking you can fix all those little mistakes as you go.

Goals are good. Keep everything turned off and your area distraction free until you meet your goal. Pages. Number of words. Time at the keyboard. Whatever. If you have a goal distractions are less likely to take you. And your will-power gets stronger the more you apply the distraction-less environment to your writing.

You really don’t want to come to the end of the day thinking “well, rats, have to work into evening or late night cuz I didn’t get done what I needed to.”

Do you really think you’ll remain focused and be productive then?

Just asking.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.