Last week in Part 1 of this article, I talked about right- vs. left-brained activities and staying creative through writing blocks. This week it’s all about saving your sanity.
Your brain is your body’s most important organ. When it’s deprived of oxygen, water, or other basic nutrients, you’ll notice your focus dwindle and your energy zap away to nothingness. Your mental health and clarity is directly connected to your success as an author. And if your mind is already wandering, distractions can easily creep in. Here are some pointers on how to keep your sanity and eliminate those pesky distractions!
As humans, this is our favorite subject, right? Do you ever hit a point in the afternoon when you’re suddenly tired, and all you can think about is how much you want to lay down and take a nap? This used to happen to me between 2:00‒3:00PM every day. Now when it happens I have an action plan in place that helps me recover faster. Here’s my secret two-step process to productivity:
- Water—Your brain is 73% water. If you’re surviving off diuretics like coffee, soda, and sugar-filled drinks, it’s no wonder you can’t focus! As you get dehydrated, your brain starts to lose water. Water is what allows your brain cells’ membranes to keep their proper fluidity and allow for proper connections between neurons. By the time you feel thirsty, you’ve probably already lost 10% of your cognitive ability. Keep a jug of water handy and remember to sip it throughout your writing time.
- Living Food—When I first started looking into the concept of living foods (otherwise called “raw” food), an entire new world opened up to me. While I’m not a 100% raw foodist, I do feel a difference when I eat raw fruits and vegetables. I feel amazing, completely focused, energized, and ready to take on writing an entire book! Fill your body with energy-giving, nutrient-dense veggies and fruits throughout the day.
Food is a great way to get started increasing your cognitive ability and motivation. The right kind of food can also help you stay focused.
Sometimes the best thing you can do to recharge your creativity battery is to take a mental health day. By doing absolutely nothing related to your book and spending the day filled with relaxing, fun activities you enjoy, your brain will relax and you’ll be much more focused and energized the next day.
Below are some things I do to give myself a mental vacation. I encourage you to make a list of activities you enjoy and add them to this list:
- Get a massage
- Go kayaking
- Do a craft (I like beading, painting, and photography)
- Visit with puppies at a pet store
- Relax in your own backyard
- Visit a friend
- Go horseback riding
- Go for a long drive
- Take a nap… or two
Do something on your list or something you’ve been wanting to do for a while, then get ready for a good night’s sleep and be prepared for the motivation to hit as soon as you wake up the next morning!
No More Distractions!
Distractions are the bane of every writer’s existence, and it can be hard to get rid of them. However, there are steps you can take to eliminate distractions from your writing space and time. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Turn Off Spell Check—By turning off your spell check, you’re giving your brain permission to keep writing until the thought is fully formed on your screen, which will keep you from forgetting your thought mid-sentence and wasting time wracking your brain as to what that amazing point you were trying to get across was going to be. It will eliminate frustration at not being able to stay focused, and keep your ideas flowing.
- Post a DND Sign—Some of the most well-meaning people in your life will also provide the largest distractions—your family. Let your family know when you plan to write (i.e.: become a good communicator with them) and hang a sign on your writing space door or entryway that says “Do not disturb.” Explain to your family that unless it’s an emergency, you’re not to be bothered. This is your time to focus and achieve your book writing goals, so protect it. By communicating the importance of this with your spouse, significant other, and children, you’ll find they may support you and your goals more than they’ll distract you.
- Bribe Yourself—Set a weekly writing goal for yourself, whether it be an entire section, chapter, or just a few paragraphs, then give yourself a reward when you reach that goal. One of my favorite rewards is to treat myself to a matinee movie at the local theater. Make a list of activities you enjoy, and when you accomplish your next writing goal give yourself one of those gifts from your list.
I know these ideas will get you started on the path to published, beginning with getting that book out of your head and onto paper, and I’d love to hear how they helped you and others of your unique ideas in the comments below!
Note: This article is an adaptation of material in my e-book, Author’s Quick Guide to Staying Focused & Motivated.
Photo courtesy Shutterstock, VT_studio