Welcome to the first Open Book Blog Hop of 2021. This week the topic is:
‘How do you keep focused during long writing sessions?’
When I started writing novels back in 2013 I could write for hours to the exclusion of everything else. After I had been writing for a year or so I learned that I had to build a writer platform to get noticed. To do this I had to engage on social media with writing groups and other authors, and … reader… that’s where the rot set in.
The little red notifications on Twitter and Facebook and the orange ‘bell’ notification on WordPress meant that there was a new comment to answer. I didn’t want to store them all up and answer them in one long session on social media, and I didn’t want people to think their comments were going unanswered. Therefore I answered comments as they came in. Big mistake! I found I was constantly checking all my social media sites for emails and new notifications, and my concentration went out of the window. It was also tempting to check my KDP, Draft2Digital, ACX, BookFunnel and IngramSpark accounts every day to discover whether I’d had any new book downloads/sales. Then there was Amazon and Goodreads to look at to see if I had any reviews. I also had to think of new blogs to write to keep readers interested, and keep my website up to date. Long writing sessions became a thing of the past, and so did hours spent curled up reading a book.
Eight years on I find that I don’t do much creative writing at all now, but that I spend far too much time engaging on social media. Last year I deleted my Facebook account in disgust at myself, and also LinkedIn and various other minor social media sites. All I tend to use now are Twitter, BookFunnel/Mailchimp and WordPress, but I still cannot find much motivation to write. I’m 17000 words into a new novel, and it’s very slow going. I might finish it this year, or I might not.
Perhaps it’s the pandemic and all the upset of 2020, but at the moment my concentration is shot through too much engagement on social media. It all seems such a faff for very little reward. Throughout 2020 I’ve had more pleasure cycling the country lanes on my bike and visiting my caravan on the Isle of Wight. As soon as I get the chance we’ll get on that ferry again and hop over the Solent.
But hey, today I’ve made a big decision that I’m going to stick with throughout 2021 and hopefully beyond that; it’s my New Year’s resolution. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the two days when I do not work as a medical secretary, I am going to switch off my phone and use these as writing days only. I will not log into any social media sites on my computer, and therefore will not engage with anybody except my fictional characters. There. I’ve said it. It’s time to stop the merry-go-round, improve my concentration and actually do some work. Rest assured you’ll get a reply from me to any comment or message from Thursday afternoons when I come home from work round to Monday evenings. Two days off social media each week will hopefully stop me feeling as though I have to keep checking for notifications, sales, reviews and messages all the time. It’s crazy. I never used to be like this. I now realise I cannot write and keep up with social media sites at the same time. Things have to change.
Roll on Tuesday!
Do other writers manage to keep focused? Click on the blue button below to find out.