Saturday, 6 February 2021

Staying Focussed Or Writing When We Don't Want To

I’m writing this post two days after an angry mob stormed the US Capitol in protest of the certification of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. During this time I was in the middle of a massive structural rewrites. All of the authors reading this post have an understanding of how intense this phase of the editing process is, this taking apart your novel and putting it back together to jibe with editorial suggestions. Of course, total focus is required. For this writer, total focus during a time of confusion, chaos, and fear was extremely difficult. On the day I sat down to get busy with my rewrites, I soon discovered that given the state of the world, I had the attention span of a single-celled amoeba. I needed to find a way to stay grounded and tuned into my work in progress, and I needed it quick! 

I logged off social media, despite being in the midst of promo around the release of the paperback version of The Betrayal. My free time that day should have been spent posting about my book, responding to comments, and thanking the people who posted book news on my behalf. But I was quickly mortified and captivated with imagery of the horrors at the US Capitol. The only thing to do was to to shut down FB, Twitter, and Insta. After I was safely away from SM, I set the timer on my cell phone for fifty minutes. During this time, I only worked on my book. I didn’t look at my phone or emails. When my fifty minutes were up, I’d take a fifteen to twenty minute break, enjoy a cup of tea and maybe do a bit of yoga. Then it was back to it. It would have been so very easy to blow off writing and spend the day glued to the shocking series of events being portrayed on the news. But a deadline is a deadline. And being a pro means sitting down and doing the work even when you don’t want to. The political drama is still unfolding in the US, and I'm still sticking to the 50 minute rule. My takeaway here is that my time is my most valuable asset. Curating how I spend it has been a timely lesson well learned. 

How do you make yourself write when surrounded by distraction? Drop your comment below. 

Happy writing, all. Hope you and your loved ones are keeping well. 



  1. Well done for staying focused. It can't be easy and turning off social media for periods of time is a great way to start.

  2. Hi, sounds like you came up with a great plan. I'm always telling myself to do a little bit and then each 'little bit' will - hopefully add up to something larger. Easier said than done sometimes! Also I do 'no go' on social media on a Sunday and in the mornings and I find that really helps me. Thanks for your post and for sharing.

  3. Well done, Terry on doing whatever it took to stay focused in such tricky circumstances. I plan on trying your 50 minute approach to writing sessions.

  4. I think the whole of the UK felt for you regarding what has been going on in the US. And every writer will understand how edits really do have to override these things. I, too, do things in little time dockets when the going gets tough. Something mentally challenging, something physically challenging, and then a little treat; reading for ten minutes, or a chat with a neighbour, or .... oh, all right, a glass of wine - that wins every time!