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My Personal Self-Help Guide for Focusing on Writing

by Maggie Brendan

With the current release of my sixth book, Perfectly Matched, last week, I was at the Georgia Romance Writers Conference, when another writer asked me if I had a guide to staying focused to write each book, handle marketing, and still maintain a separate life apart from my work. It was a thought provoking question which made me take a hard look at my writing habits, and ask myself if I used a formula unknowingly. I took the time to jot down things that give me a sense of direction for my writing and the best use of my time. Rather simplistic but these are my rules:
Perfectly Matched
Pray. Start each writing day by asking God to guide you and give you focus.

Just Write. Please don’t wait for the mood to strike you. Just open up a word document and begin with one line and ideas will flow. I write with the same approach whether I’m in the mood or not. I record my word count at the end of the day on my Outlook calendar so I can quickly see how my goal is adding up for the week. This helps me make adjustments if I fall short or need to add to the word count the next day. I use a large three ring binder to print out my chapters for each book. I find this a good way to let the chapter sit for a while then read for errors away from the computer.

Time Management. This involves you on making a decision to be a writer. Writers are notorious for making excuses-errands to run, the laundry, talking on the phone, yard work, or watching TV. Successful writers write every day. Decide what hours you need to block out to write, but be flexible only when you have to. Treat your work like a job, and others will begin to respect that. Time management is one of the biggest challenges writers face and I’m the worst. Be willing to admit this to yourself. Print up a schedule if you must to keep you on target. I always type up a ‘to do’ list for the week to prioritize. Your schedule of writing time will soon become a habit.

Social Media. Limit time on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. This can eat into your writing time, but don’t let it. Most of us have an Author Page and I do try to post something once a day, but be careful not to become lazy by spending too much time on these sites.

Finish what you start. Before moving on to the next project, finish what you start. You’ll feel better that you accomplished your goal and be refreshed to begin another new story.

Reward yourself. Take time off when you need to. Meet a friend for lunch or take a walk. I get my best ideas on my daily walk. In fact, I’m leaving now. Come join me!

Maggie BrendanMaggie Brendan is a CBA bestselling author, a 2013 finalist for the Published Maggie Award of Excellence, a 2013 finalist for the Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award, and a 2012 finalist for Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. She’s a member of the ACFW, Author’s Guild, RWA, FHL and GRW.

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4 Responses to My Personal Self-Help Guide for Focusing on Writing

  1. Ane Mulligan says:

    Just write is exactly what I have to do. That and gag my inner editor.

  2. Ane, I know exactly what you mean. Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to post. :) Happy Writing.

  3. My best ideas seem to come when I’m out walking or jogging, too! I try to do that early in the morning to get the creative juices flowing :o) I really like your idea of printing and keeping the chapters in a binder,to take another look later, away from the computer.

  4. Rebecca, it really does work for me and it’s easier to spot mistakes or see places to expand. Thanks for stopping by. Happy Writing.