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Writing Books/Staying Focus?


I'm typing my novel on my laptop, and I attend to get distracted to easily, like with the Internet, when I should be focusing on my novel. I've tried hand-writing the novel but it's not comfortable for me. So I'm asking is there a way that I can stay focus and get everything done?

Hi, Susan.

I can relate! In fact, at the moment, I'm at a coffee shop with the laptop, ostensibly writing. But as you can see, I've distracted myself with email.

Let me begin by saying that everyone is different when it comes to their ability to focus. One obvious thing you could do is disconnect yourself from the 'net. Easier said than done, I know, since most laptops these days have wireless cards built in.  But you could take that laptop to an area without wireless access.  Turn off your cell phone and put it away, too.

Another thing is music. Music can actually help you focus. Best bet is music with a moderate tempo and preferably instrumental, so you don't get sucked into listening to the lyrics. But again, this is all subjective.  Personally, I tend to listen to different types of music depending on what I'm writing.  When I was writing my fantasy novel, I listened to a lot of stuff like Mannheim Steamroller's Fresh Aire series.  It just seemed to fit and to put me into the right frame of mind.

Also, don't assume that distractions serve no purpose. Believe it or not, sometimes your mind strays from your project for a reason. It could be that your subconscious needs more time to mull over some things and the distraction is your brain's way of telling you this. Still, that doesn't mean you should just dive into your distractions. Nor should you allow them to keep you from whatever your projected writing goals are for the day.

One simple thing you can do is set up a system of rewards. For example, tell yourself that you can take a web surfing break after writing 500 words or whatever. Then you can play online for 10 minutes. Then back to work.

But try to make that web surfing time productive. Research something that will help you in your writing project.  Don't just check Facebook.  : )

Hope that helps a little.  

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Vincent M. Wales


I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.


For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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