Writing may be your job, but staying focused is often tough. Life is full of distractions—emails from clients, social media messages, your family asking what’s for dinner… Some days it feels impossible to stay on task!
So how can writers maintain focus while writing? We have six tips to help you develop clarity and focus, write consistently, and find your writing motivation each time you sit down to work.
Why focusing is important for freelance writers
Simply put, concentrating on your writing can help you grow your business. Staying focused helps you:
- Avoid mistakes – Typos, misspellings, grammar issues, and other errors are a no-no for professional writers. If your attention is being pulled every which way, you may be more likely to miss a critical mistake in your work. This could lead to an unhappy client and potential damage to your professional reputation.
- Meet deadlines – Clients hire you to get their job done well and complete it on time. Missing deadlines because you’re unable to focus is bad for business!
- Improve your skills – The more you write, the better your skills can get. When you write consistently, you’re practicing your language skills and stretching your creativity.
- Make more money – Focusing on a single project could help you complete the work faster. You may be able to accept more clients as you complete your work more quickly and efficiently.
You may be asking yourself, “What about multitasking?” While you likely need to juggle multiple clients and priorities throughout the day, it’s still better to focus on a single task at a time when you work. The science backs this up—multitasking can make you less efficient and more likely to make a mistake.
6 Tips to help you focus on writing
Now that you understand why focus is so crucial for freelance writers, it’s time to dive into some tips. These suggestions could help you improve your concentration on writing and run your business more efficiently.
1. Set up your workspace for success
A dedicated workspace could help you focus on writing by signaling to your brain that it’s time to get to work. It doesn’t have to be much; a simple desk or table in the corner may be perfect if you don’t have an office. And don’t forget a comfy and supportive chair!
Your workspace should ideally be uncluttered (fewer distractions) but also have everything you need to do your job, such as:
- Notebook and pen
- Style guides and other writing references
- Noise cancelling headphones
- “Comfort” items (i.e., water, tissues, aspirin, sweater)
2. Create a writing routine
Once you know where you’re going to write, it’s time to prepare your mind for the task at hand. A writing routine can be a powerful way to tell your brain, “It’s time to write”.
Your writing routine can help you clear your mind before you begin work. Think about what calms you down when you’re feeling nervous or anxious. Maybe you drink a cup of tea, do some stretches, or take a quick walk around the block.
Consider practicing these types of habits right before you start writing. Do the same steps every time, and you might find it easier to concentrate while you write in just a few days.
3. Dedicate time exclusively to writing
We’ve already mentioned that multitasking probably doesn’t work, but it’s worth repeating. Instead of bouncing back and forth between tasks, dedicate time exclusively to writing.
Some writers are morning people. Others find that inspiration strikes at night. Block out time whenever you feel best able to write and do nothing else. Turn off social media alerts, put your phone on silent, and ignore your emails—you’re only here to write!
While this may improve your writing, it could also help you run your business more efficiently too. For example, it might make more sense to dedicate one hour each morning to chasing invoices instead of following them up whenever you happen to remember.
4. Set a timer
Still struggling to focus? Setting a timer could help you build your concentration.
The timer technique is simple: Set a timer and tell yourself that you must write until it goes off. No distractions, no excuses. After the timer goes off, set another timer for a short break. Then repeat!
You might start slow by working for 15-20 minutes at a time. Build up to a longer period by increasing the timer by five minutes every day. Once you’ve reached your ideal working period (maybe 45 minutes or an hour), you can aim for that each time you decide to use this method.
5. Listen to music while you work
Music can also be a great way to improve your concentration and writing motivation. A great playlist can help you block out distractions—without becoming a distraction itself!
There are many playlists available that are made with concentration in mind. Classical music is a traditional choice, but you might also enjoy binaural beats or isochronic tones (both use repeated frequencies to stimulate the brain). Nature and rain sounds are also popular options.
You might want to avoid music genres like metal, EDM, or catchy pop tunes when you’re writing. However, everyone is different! Experiment with various playlists and music genres until you find something that helps you concentrate on your writing.
6. Keep a notebook for stray thoughts
Sometimes it’s impossible to keep stray thoughts from popping up while you work. You might be typing away on a client’s project and suddenly remember an admin task that you need to take care of today. You don’t want to stop your flow, but you also don’t want to forget about the task.
Keeping a notebook on hand for just these occasions may help. As ideas, tasks, and other thoughts come to you, quickly jot them down and refocus on your work. Your notes will be there when you finish writing and can be actioned at another time.
When you focus on writing, you can produce better work for your clients. You may be able to avoid costly mistakes or errors, missed deadlines, and other reputation killers. We hope the six tips above can help you write consistently, boost efficiency, and grow your freelance writing business!
Have you considered writers insurance?
Protecting your small business is another great way to help it grow and thrive. Writers and authors insurance (various coverage options designed especially for freelance writing professionals) help shield your business against common risks, such as:
- Copyright and trademark infringement
- Missed deadlines or breaches of contract
- Client property damage or bodily injury
- Unexpected business interruptions
- Equipment breakdown
Compare insurance options for writers and authors with BizInsure, and get covered online in minutes.
The number of quotes provided varies between products, occupations and other underwriting factors determined by the insurers.
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