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What keeps you focused in writing?

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I wouldn't consider myself an actual writer, so to speak, however I find taking regular breaks and not bothering to try too hard if my mind's elsewhere is the best way to stay focused with a clear sense of purpose. Also, maintaining a constant awareness of format, purpose and audience should help too. Perhaps try having a couple of post-it notes around with some ideas around those 3 topics before writing may help?


Any other advice?

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All good ideas from Callum.

I'm by no means a professional writer myself. I find it helpful to let my writing sit overnight or days (maybe longer). Then I come back and read through to see if it withstands the test of time. 

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Although I have been paid for my writing and editing, I don't consider myself a professional.

Cal's suggestions are spot on, and understanding your purpose is vital. Who is your audience? What tone do you want to convey? How much space do you need to fill? Ask yourself LOTS of questions about why you are writing.

Sometimes I will just start off in a stream-of-consciousness manner, getting the basic thoughts down. Then I start to refine it, add details, subtract others. Move paragraphs around. Always keep the inverted pyramid in mind. Try to avoid repetition, whether it is words, sentence structure or length. Use active verbs and avoid passive voice. Always step back from it and return with fresh eyes. The best writer is also a good editor.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I usually create outlines of sorts. I write notes about which things need to be included, and then I work from point A to point B to point C and so on. Every few points, I re-read my writing to make sure I am accomplishing what I set out to do, and I fill in information I have learned about my characters or the story from writing more. I usually re-read a chapter (or about a few thousand words), make sure it's okay, and move on. After a few chapters, I'll read all the writing at once, again making sure my story fits the vision I had for it. I edit out discrepancies and information that is no longer true or correct. I find typos. Once that part of the story is complete, I leave it at that. Then I do the same for the next part and the final part. Lastly, I'll read the entire piece at once in a couple weeks (when I can no longer guess words before they come up, and I have a clear mind). I add in special details like foreshadowing or secret hints, or I improve on the suspense building or character development.


To me, writing is the process of slowly weaving a story together. Editing and revisiting the story are two important things.


If I want to just write something, anything at all with no goal, I use writeordie.com, or I wait until I am actually inspired by something. It's hard to write a creative piece in a sincere voice when I don't have the passion for it. I have to want to know how the story ends.

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Everyone has really great points here. 

I don't consider myself a professional writer, but I find committing myself to a daily or weekly goal (word count, chapter, etc) really does help me write.  Committing deadlines to my agenda makes me want to "tick" them off so I have to actually finish the work.  Talking about my writing to people forces me to actually deliver a result. That helps too. I just make sure to write every day (or as close to every day as possible) to practice my writing. 

In terms of focusing when writing: outlines are great - I'm a plotter not a pantser and I have to do my research, form the story or article from beginning to end, before I write. I kind of write in the same way @SingSong's described. :)  Slowly forming the story together, re-editing and re-writing it.  Helps me focus. 

Understanding the audience and purpose like what @Callum and @N_E_Wunn mentioned is definitely helpful too. Asking myself whether my writing will translate to its intended audience, or not. Whether my writing can benefit from tweaks, if it doesn't communicate my points well enough, then I would find ways to improve. 

I write better and more focused when I have a criteria - like for a research paper, essay, that kind of thing.


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