Have you ever experienced the emotional roller coaster of writing?
Do you ever think as you’re writing, “Damn. This passage is good. People are going to think I’m a really good writer.” This happens to me on occasion, but more often, I write passages I think are terrible—I cringe and get knots in my back as I write.
This emotional ride often distracts us from actually writing. We get so sucked up in how we’re feeling we forget to write.
It’s moments like these when you have to refocus.
How to Refocus
The only secret to getting out of this emotional cycle is to write.
Don’t go back and fix your spelling mistakes. You can do that later.
Don’t google that quote from that famous author you absolutely need. You can do that later.
And for goodness sakes, don’t “take a break” to check email and facebook while you wait for inspiration. You won’t find inspiration on facebook.
This is the daily trudge of writing. You have to write when you love what you’re writing and just want to soak up every word. You have to write when you hate what you’re writing so much it’s throwing your back out. This daily trudge is so difficult that every once in a while I invent a new aid to stay focused.
Here are a few tools to help you escape the emotional cycle of writing:
1. Close your eyes as you write.
When you’re feeling down about yourself and your writing, the worst thing you can do is read the last sentence that you wrote.
Instead, close your eyes and type. You can read and fix it later.
2. Give yourself a time limit.
Set a timer for fifteen to thirty minutes and write as much as you can during that time. Don’t edit. Don’t re-read. Don’t play facebook games. You can do that stuff after.
This is a great way to force your brain to focus for solid chunks of time.
3. Write with a typewriter or by hand.
Typewriters and notebooks don’t have the internet. They don’t have Freecell or Spider Solitaire. All you can do is write or not write.
On top of that, these mediums force you to separate editing time from writing time, which can slow you down.
4. Take breaks.
Many people think the longer they sit at their computer working, the more productive they will be. The truth is our minds and bodies need breaks from time to time.
Go on a walk. Stare out the window and zone out for five minutes. Meditate. I try to do this for twenty minutes twice a day.
Breaks help our subconscious catch up so that we can refocus on our work.
5. Invent your own way to focus.
This short list isn’t meant to be complete. You can easily invent your own ways to help you focus. The principles are always the same. Focus on writing. Review later. Avoid distraction.
When you do this, you can get ahead of your emotions that distract you. Stop being a bi-polar writer. Start being a productive one.
How do you deal with the emotional cycle in writing? And what do you do to stay focused?
Practice focus by writing about a basketball player before a big game. How does he prep his mind? Does he visualize the game in his mind? Does he think about what it felt like the first time he played the sport?
Choose one of the tools above to help you focus (personally, I’m going to write with my eyes closed).
You have fifteen minutes. Post your piece in the comments when your time is up. Have fun!