Writing Tips To Keep You Focused

typingThe new plot idea is finally down on paper… or rather, typed into yWriter. I wrote nearly 12K just with the new idea, so I feel satisfied that I have what I need down, to be able to come back to it.

My NaNo Novel took a small turn last night and I wound up deleting a few paragraphs and lost almost 800 words in the process. But even that I fixed before I fell asleep. All that and I even managed to help two of the five kids with homework, deal with 1 teen and her crisis, watch an hour of TV and listen to a 2 hour radio show. My night was a success.

Which brings me to today. I have a lot of work to do on my current novel if I hope to finish it by the end of the month. (I am aiming to finish it, not just reach 50K) I keep getting sidetracked by things I have been researching for other projects and situations. I need to focus. Here are some tips for keeping focused. (yes, I plan to heed my own advice).

What happens when my idea seems stale and I want to change directions or plots entirely?

Nothing happens. You just keep writing in whatever direction your heart takes you. That was actually why I wound up deleting those paragraphs. I had a better direction to go. I don’t recommend deleting anything until the end though. You know, do what I say, not what I do. haha.

Even if certain elements of your story have changed, you can keep writing. Editing comes later and that is when you can go back and change what you need to change. Make notes nearby the paragraphs that need changes so it is easier to find them again.

Don’t allow yourself to get bored with what you are writing and think that a change is what you need. It isn’t always. Sometimes we just need a fresh idea or a new character to be introduced.

Can I skip a day of writing and catch up the next day?

There are no rules on how you write, when you write or how you reach 50K. So yes, you can skip a day. But the question would be better asked, “SHOULD I skip a day of writing? The answer to that question, is really, No. You should make every attempt you can to make sure you are writing every single day, even if you aren’t meeting your word count goal for the day. Every little bit helps and keeps the flow going. If you take a day off, it makes it very easy to take the following day off, and continue on with that pattern until you find yourself so behind that you can’t possibly catch up, without getting no sleep for two days straight.

I didn’t quite make my word count goal for the day, is that bad?

No, it is not bad. It’s not a great thing, but it happens to all of us. (especially us idiots who delete 800+ words and then have to write them all again). If you are just a few hundred words off, you can probably make those up fairly quickly. However, if you only get a few hundred words out a day, you have little change of successfully completing your 50K goal. Do everything in your power to meet or exceed your writing goals, daily. If you get ahead, try not to take the next day off. Write something.

This chapter is going nowhere, even though I know what’s going to happen next, what do I do?

You keep writing. I hear this same complaint, year after year and many want to give up when a chapter seems hopeless. Don’t do that. There is no rule that says you cannot skip around from chapter to chapter or scene to scene. So skip ahead. Write a scene that is playing on your mind heavily, or one that you are just really excited to write. You will probably get a lot of words down if you are in the mood to write, and are writing something you are passionate or excited about.

I’ve told this story before, but for the new readers of the blog: Several years ago, the first year I actually won NaNo – I tried something I hadn’t done before. I wrote the beginning and the end first. I even wrote about three different scenes in the middle of the book. THEN I went through and filled in the gaps. It was actually a really cool way to do it. I wound up with subplots I never saw coming and situations I probably wouldn’t have come up with originally.

So, I’m all hyped up on coffee, I have a hot steaming cup sitting next to me, and hours before any kids get off the bus. I am going to go get lost in novel-land and avoid Twitter like the plague.

How’s your novel coming? Are you where you want to be?

(oh, and no James – that’s not me either lol)

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  1. says

    Reading this post gave me the encouragement I needed to finish that pesky chapter I have open on my computer right now. I was a couple thousand words ahead, but a few bad writing days later, I’m right on target with where I should be for getting the 50k. It really stinks to go from having wiggle room to having to stay right on target. Today I am hoping to regain some progress on my word counts. I just know with the holiday weekend coming up, I’ll find every excuse not to write, and none of them will be worthy ones…


  1. […] Writing Tips to Keep You Focused, by Nicole Humphrey. Nichole’s blog, It’s All About Writing, focuses on her life as a writer, a busy, busy writer, who is also the mother of five. Her novel this year is “Dancing With Fireflies.” She’s been reaching her NaNo goals this year, and she says, “I will win!” Nicole has done NaNoWriMo since 2004 and has won every year since 2006. Not only that, she juggles a freelance career and is a prolific blogger. When she talks about focus, she speaks from experience… lots and lots of experience. […]

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