I think many writers suffer from a lack of focus. I know I do! My friend Kristine Kathryn Rusch calls this “popcorn kittens.” Ideas pop up and I'm immediately drawn to that new and shiny idea. As I came into 2018, after having finished my MLIS degree, I found myself chasing a bunch of different ideas.
You'll gain focus by killing your darlings. It isn't only self-indulgent writing that needs to go. You're a busy creative with many other demands on your time. You can't afford to chase every new idea—no matter how cute!
You can't take them all. You need to pick which ideas will get your attention and time. An attack on my websites convinced me that I needed to not only reboot my writing career—I also needed to cut back to a single site with a specific focus.
You've heard of writer's block? Often it isn't writer's block that is the problem. It's productivity block. Have you experienced this? You sit down to write and end up checking email. Your kid asks a question. The dog whines to go out. Then you have to get lunches ready and get everyone out the door.
Writers talk about procrastination. Or distractions. Or the demands of juggling work and life.
This is a productivity block. You know what needs to get done but don't have a system for managing all the demands on your time. Without a system, things happen when they happen. I know for me this is often the case. If the stars align and the Moon is in the right phase, I get my writing done. Or if I have a system in place.
Saying that procrastination is the cause feels like blaming. “I procrastinated and didn't get my writing done.”
Saying I didn't write because of distractions feels like making excuses. “If I could get fifteen minutes to myself, I might actually get some writing done.”
Pick a system that works and stick with it. I've always seen success when I have a system in place. For this year, I decided to go with Michael Hyatt's Full Focus Planner (save 15% with the referral link before June 30th, 2018).
The Full Focus Planner incorporates concepts that Michael Hyatt has taught in his courses and in his book Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals.
The basic structure Mr. Hyatt describes for setting goals works for me and is built into the planner. From annual goa , to details about each quarter, to the big three weekly goals, all the way to your big three daily goals.
Goals in Mr. Hyatt's system fit a SMARTER structure. Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Risky, Time-Keyed, Exciting, and Relevant. He also defines goals as either one-time achievement goals or as habit goals.
The planner helps with defining and reviewing all of these goals. It's a system that resonates with me. I like that he calls for risky and exciting goals. I found reading the book was a good companion to the planner and the tutorial videos that go along with the planner.
I don't believe that there is only one system that will work for everyone. What systems have you tried? What do you recommend to others? Share your thoughts below.
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Ryan M. Williams lives a double life as a full-time career librarian and a multi-genre writer with over twenty books. He writes across a range of genres including science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, mystery, horror, and romance. He earned a Master of Arts degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University and a Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose University. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Pocket Books, WMG Publishing, and in On Spec Magazine.