Sunday, August 14, 2011


Writing is all about focus: butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.

The writer sits and the words are supposed to flow. When they don't, there are endless distractions that will allow the writer to kill hours and hours of time, the Internet is first and foremost among these.

I've had friends recently try a program that blocks the Internet on their computers for a set amount of time. My experience is that even if I don't have the Internet and I'm having some kind of trouble writing I'll find a way to distract myself. Is there a program that'll block TV or me putting a DVD in?

It's about will.

I was turned on to a piece of software called FocusBooster. I tell it how long I want to work, how long a break I want in between sessions, press Play and off I go. Here's a shot:

Focus Booster is based on the pomodoro technique.

That's 6:33 left in that particular writing session, which was set for half an hour. The bar starts out green and changes color as it counts down to zero. You can set it so the ticking clock is there if you want, but I don't use that. It does give you an alarm sound when it's done and then counts down the length of the break you set, too.  It's a free program and it works for me. Maybe it'll work for you.

I've talked about Scrivener, too, and there are functions in that program that I like and a lot more that I don't use. I like the Project Targets that you can see in the photo up there. This particular session I got nearly 600 words. Since I have to do a lot of writing in the mornings before I go to work, these things have been enormously helpful. They don't keep me from being distracted so much as they help me stay focused when I'm writing. They help me get into and stay in the Zone where the Words are.

The thing that causes me the most distraction when I'm writing? When I haven't done enough pre-writing research. In the comments, feel free share how you stay focused when you're writing and how you do your research before you start.