How To Focus When Writing or Editing – Finding What Works for You By Chloe Adler
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Chloe Adler as she shares with us “How To Focus When Writing or Editing – Finding What Works for You.” Enjoy!
During my last couple years of indie publishing I’ve experimented with a myriad of different techniques – aiming to crack the nut of productivity. Where is the best place to write? When is the best time to write? How much can I produce in a day? How can I increase my productivity? How/where can I focus?
Some things I’ve found
I’ve written in cafes, on airplanes, in co-working spaces, at home, in hotel rooms, in the car, at the hairdressers, libraries and many other places. Some things I’ve found that affect my productivity are noise and distractions.
The distractions can be the people at the table next to me in the café, my dog whining, the upstairs neighbors being too loud or even things as mundane as my to do list while at home. There’s always laundry that needs to be done or dishes that need washing or lunch that needs making or a dog that needs walking.
During the past year, except when traveling, I’ve mostly worked from home. I’ve been trying to crack the productivity code for myself with the caveat that it’s different for everyone. I tried to track my progress on a spreadsheet, many times.
I entered data for when I wrote, where I wrote and how much I got done. After a week I’d give up annoyed that I had to spend time filling out a worksheet when all I wanted to do was work. I read (and listened to on audible) to Chris Fox’s book, 5,000 Words per Hour, Rachel Aaron’s 2K to 10K and a slew of other books on the ways and how’s to write faster. And these books are great, they really are but ultimately their advice didn’t work for me because they were systems that worked for the people who wrote them. This is not a one size fits all profession.
Taking a class
Ultimately I took a class from Becca Syme, that delved into each person’s individual strengths. We took the free Meyers Briggs and basic (least expensive) StrengthsFinder. I read through her class materials and had a one-on-one with her, all trying to unlock my own secret sauce. She made some great suggestions but the best advice she gave was “Try everything. Don’t get discouraged. What works for one person will not work for everyone.” And she is right.
She also told me why other methods didn’t work for me, based on my personality type, which allowed me to finally let go of my comparisonitis and my wanna be Chris Fox or Rachel Aaron/itis. Letting go of what didn’t work started me on the path to finding what did.
My biggest challenge is that I’m extremely noise sensitive. Any noise while I’m writing can pull me out of my zone for an hour or more. I took to wearing earplugs all the time until I hurt the insides of my ears and had to stop. Plus they didn’t silence enough noise.
In Becca’s class I learned about brain.fm which influences cognitive brain states, according to their website. All I know is that I went from a person who couldn’t focus or cut out noise to a person with laser focus when I’m listening to the focus tracks from brain.fm on my noise cancellation headsets. And I’m a person who’s never been able to listen to any music while writing, reading, meditating before but brain.fm puts me into a state of deep concentration.
My next challenge was the distractions of being at home which includes housework as well as the internet. I use freedom to block websites but it still wasn’t cutting it. I’d spend 8 to 10 hours a day writing or editing and barely make my word count or my day’s editing goal.
I’d worry for more than half the day about not being able to produce. I’d procrastinate and emotionally beat myself up. I’d deny myself from going out, socializing or having any fun because I still had work to do. I stressed out my friends and myself.
I looked for a solution
Café’s don’t work for me, there are far too many distractions but I had, in the past, tried co-working spaces. They worked about 50% of the time but they were either too far from my house or too noisy, usually both. Recently I found a new/ish co-working space in my town! I tried it out and when used in combination with brain.fm on my noise cancelation headsets I finally found my own personal winner.
In 2 to 4 hours a day at the co-working space, I’ve been able to get more work done that I used to get done in 10 hours at home. And not just one day a week, this has been consistent for multiple days and weeks in a row.
I’m not saying this will work for everyone, but it’s working for me. What I want to impart is – don’t give up. Keep trying different strategies. Be innovative. Ask questions and have fun experimenting! For this particular crux I have to insist that it’s about the destination, not the journey but you can’t find that pot of gold without traipsing over the rainbow.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
For the past undisclosed amount of years, Chloe Adler has thoroughly bucked the system. She lives in foggy Northern California with her dead fish Larry and a bouncy bunny rabbit named Fred. After selling her rock collection, she amassed enough money to buy and move into a small motor home where she developed a strange fondness for striped socks.
Prior to her infamous writing career, Chloe was an overachiever, amassing a slew of unimpressive letters after her name. The trouble is that the five people who know what the letters mean, don’t really care.
When she’s not writing, she can be found picking trash up off the beaches, offering rides to the homeless, and roasting her own coffee beans.
Chloe has completed her first paranormal romance series, Distant Edge, which is a genre mishmash guaranteed to rotate heads. If you sign up for her newsletter, not only will you find out more, you’ll also make her jump up and down with joy for at least 3.5 seconds. Wouldn’t that be nice?