7 Ways to Stay Focused on Your WIP

A friend once told me that I have ADOS. Attention Deficit… Oh, shiny!

And she’s right. Especially when it comes to writing. I want it to be fun and exciting and…easy. I get distracted by new and shiny ideas all the time.
Another friend compared this to our dating lives.You know, like when you bump into a cute guy in the library (this is where us writer-types like to meet guys, right?). 

Your eyes meet and your stomach does a backflip. You give Cute Library Guy a shy smile. He smiles back. Pretty soon you are seeing him every day. And your time together is absolutely magical. You think about him all the time. You talk about him all the time. You want to be with him all the time. And it’s fun and exciting and…easy.

Then, one day, you learn Cute Library Guy only eats foods that are brown. What? Ok. I mean…that’s kinda weird. But, still… he’s fun and cute and he makes you smile. You can work past this.
Then you discover Cute Library Guy sees bathing as optional. And, he exercises. A lot.

But the last straw is when he starts speaking in his own language. I mean, really? Suddenly Cute Library Guy is boring, stinky and doesn’t even make sense.
And then you’re at the library again. You see another cute boy. He turns and smiles at you. Your stomach contemplates joining the gymnastic club as it does a somersault followed by a handstand.Before you say fickle pickle you’ve dumped Cute Library Boy and you’re with a new guy.
Until you discover Cute Library Boy #2 kisses like a vacuum set on Suck Her Face Off.
And that, my friends, is how my writing is going these days. I love writing the beginning of stories. I love dreaming up new worlds. I love the thrill of creating new magic systems or thinking up character quirks. I love designing cliffhanger chapter endings. But then… when I have to get down to the nitty gritty and figure out where the story is going, when I see there are problems with my idea that I’m going to have to work out or when I discover massive flaws in my world building, that’s when fun, exciting and easy-looking ideas begin to look incredibly attractive to me.

Anyone else struggle with staying focused?

After some research, I found some strategies for staying true to your (and my!) current project. 

#1: Get rid of the temptationIf a shiny idea comes along get it out of your head by writing the details down in a writing ideas document, folder or notebook.

#2: Remember all the reasons you love your current work-in-progress. I find this is a good use for Pinterest boards. Pin pictures to do with your project. Find lovely photos of spooky swamps, Victorian homes and guys in long jackets wearing goggles. Like I did.  And then when you want to be inspired or to get excited about your project, take a moment to scroll through your board.

#3: Keep in mind it won’t be easy. You’re going to hit road blocks. And you’re going to have to find a way around them. Decide now to stick with it, even when it’s hard. 

#4: BUT don’t focus on the difficult parts. Focus on the good stuff!  Think about what you love about your story. What makes your story different? Keep yourself motivated and excited by focusing on what makes your story fun and unique. 
      #5: Work on a different scene in your book. If you’re bored or distracted by where you’re currently at in your WIP (which might be a sign you need to change something about the scene) work on a different part of your story. Write the cool action-chase scene with exploding radish monsters and glow-in-the-dark radioactive octopuses (What? Your book doesn’t have one of those scenes? Mine either. But I think I better change that…)
#  #6: Make writing goals. Decide to write a page a day, a chapter a week or complete the book by a certain date. And then tell everyone about your goal. Tell your coworkers, your friends and family, the guy who stocks the bread in the grocery store. Heck, post it on Facebook and tell the world. This is called positive public pressure. If everyone knows your goal then they’ll ask about it, especially if you report how you’re doing periodically.

    #7: Be consistent. Keep your excitement and motivation high by making time to write every day. 
Time for me to get real, people.
I am going to finish a decent draft of my work-in-progress, WW, by the end of February. (Now we’ll see how this positive public pressure works.)

And when things get tricky and I want to give up, I’m going to remember this…

Do you have ADOS? How do you stay motivated and focused on your work-in-progress? 

3 thoughts on “7 Ways to Stay Focused on Your WIP

  1. Erin, I love all your shiny ideas, and I hope one day you have the time to write them all! But for now, I'll be your cheerleader while you work on meeting that February goal. Which you will! 🙂 I'm not so much suffering from ADOS as Drop Your Drafting and Revise Another Project Syndrome. But I need to think of a name for it that has a better acronym…


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