Tips for Keeping Your Focus While Writing
It is the rare person who hasn’t procrastinated either before or during a writing assignment. There’s something about committing words to paper that makes even professional writers balk and look around their home for something, anything else to do. For just a little while. Chew on ideas. Think through that outline just a bit more. Ease that growl in the stomach. Maybe walk the dog and stretch the legs before settling in and really getting down to business.
As the historian, David McCullough said, “Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.” Correctly or incorrectly, fair or not, writing has been considered a sign of one’s native intelligence for quite some time. Once we’ve finished writing, we know that not only our words but the quality of our thinking will be judged based on what we’ve written. Until we’ve finished writing, we can avoid these judgments.
All empathy for this unfortunate reality aside, nothing is going to hurt your writing more than procrastination or a lack of focus and concentration while writing. The challenge is how to attain and maintain focus while engaged in a writing project.
First, it’s important to assess just how bad your problems with procrastination, focus, and concentration are. They could be the signs of undiagnosed ADHD, some form of anxiety or mood disorder, or all three. If your problems with concentration extend well beyond writing, are more global, create real problems for you personally, professionally, or academically, then it’s worthwhile to seek out advice from your healthcare provider about possible medical treatment.
Assuming that what ails you is merely garden-variety procrastination when it comes to writing, the following are some tips to help you put pen to paper, or more likely start tap-tap-tapping on your laptop until the project at hand is both done and well done.
Don’t Start With a Blank Page
A blank page is pure, unrealized potential. Nothing is more daunting than the weight of pure, unrealized potential. Put something, anything on that page quickly to get over the psychological hurdle of just getting started. Think of it as “dirtying up” that blank page. Simply jot notes relevant to the project. Keep it simple. Bullet points will do. The ideas don’t have to be well thought through or follow an elaborate outline. In fact, you don’t want to think the ideas through or create an elaborate outline, first. Doing so will only worsen your problem by forcing you to think everything through before you get to the actual writing. Instead, by providing short-hand notes and bullet points, you start creating a simple outline that you can grow and improve upon as you begin the process of thinking right on the page. The point here is to think as you write, not before you write.
Build-in Deadlines and Celebrations
Nothing helps focus the mind on a writing project quite like a looming deadline. At the same time, the point of this article is to help you avoid a deadline that looms too large and too soon on your calendar. When you have a big project due far in the distance, it’s very easy to procrastinate and lose focus. Ideally, create a production calendar like they do in theatre, film, or special events. These industries use hard deadlines. People who work in these industries must meet their deadlines. They have no choice. Plus, the work is complex enough that they can’t wait until the last minute to get started. Work backward from the final due date and build in deadlines for various milestones, chopping up the assignment into sensible pieces and leaving time for feedback and editorial changes. To make this process even more effective, build in small, celebratory moments after completing a milestone. For example, after you’ve finished your data analysis for a given paper, you get to go out for your favorite pizza or watch a favorite movie, or maybe buy something from your Amazon wishlist that you’ve been pining for.
Herbal Supplements For Focus and Concentration
One of the more potentially powerful herbal supplements that could be useful in gaining focus and concentration is kratom. But not just any kratom. You need to pick the right kratom that supports your particular needs. Long used by indigenous people in Southeast Asian countries for a wide variety of health and household purposes, there are a number of different strains of kratom and many different kratom blends, each with its own profile and intended effects. It could be that you’re exhausted and could benefit from kratom that will enhance your energy. It could be that you would benefit from a relaxing kratom strain that will help ease the emotional discomfort you feel when writing. Perhaps a kratom blend formulated to address both needs is required. Speak with a reputable kratom company about what they might recommend. There are good vendors with an online presence that provide high-quality supplements free of fillers and additives that will be happy to advise you. Beware of any company that sells kratom at a suspiciously low price and makes no effort to protect its consumers in terms of purity or safety.
Another herbal supplement that’s been in use for quite some time and is beneficial in terms of memory, focus, and cognition is Black Seed Oil. While not as potent as kratom or CBD for these purposes, it is widely available, including at many bricks-and-mortar grocery stores, health food stores, and supplement companies.
Trust the Process
Writing is an iterative process. Remember that until you submit that project, you have carte blanche to make any changes you like. At times your writing won’t be stellar. You’ll make plenty of mistakes. That’s all part of the writing process. You get to go back and fine-tune your writing until you’re happy with the result, or until that submission deadline arrives, whichever comes first. Regardless, by using these suggestions, you should be able to make quicker, easier work with better quality writing when undertaking your future writing projects, no matter how complex.