Have you ever struggled with how to focus on writing until you get it done? How many times have you stared at a blank screen and been unable to control your wandering mind? Perhaps you then reached for your phone and started to scroll through social media instead of focusing on the task at hand. Maybe your friend’s Saturday night party images hold your attention for a moment. Then you scroll past those to the post about another friend’s wedding or baby shower.
Before you know it, several hours have gone by, and you’ve even watched a movie on Netflix.
But what you haven’t done is what you meant to do in the first place. If only you knew how to focus on writing. Instead, you’re back where you started, and your screen is still blank. That’s a real problem.
You see, if you are a freelancer, marketer, or business owner (or dream of being any of one of these things), you’ll struggle if you don’t know how to focus on writing. After all, writing is the bread and butter of content creation. And content is the only way to grab and hold the attention of your new prospects and existing clients. But how do you make that happen?
How To Focus On Writing When it Feels Like You Have ADHD
If you type “how to focus on writing” into Google, you’ll find a lot of resources. But what most of these resources don’t address are the reasons why you are struggling in the first place. All the apps, tools, and tricks to stay focused won’t help you if you don’t understand the root of your problem. Because no matter what you try, after a while, your mind will wander again, and you’ll reach for your phone again.
So, what’s the root of your problem? What’s distracting you?
Before we get to that, I want to assure you that if you are struggling with how to focus on writing, you are not alone. You are not lazy or dumb. And most importantly, it’s not your fault. It’s the school system’s fault. Traditional school systems teach us the 5 paragraph essay, academic papers or reports, and little else in the way of real-world writing. How are you meant to figure it all out on your own without some guidance?
In this article, I will share with you what I teach my copywriting students when they come to me and wonder how to focus on writing. I’ll give you the tools, tips, and tricks you can use to be a productive, focused writer. But I also want to address the core of why you are struggling in the first place. So let’s get started.
Problem #1: I Don’t Know How to Start
Do you often find yourself saying, “I don’t know how to start,” or “I don’t know where to start,” or “I don’t know what to write”? You might recognize these statements as Writer’s Block. Writer’s Block is a condition “in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown.”
Because it is such a common ailment among writers, many resources list various remedies for Writer’s Block, including:
- Doing something physical, like taking a shower, exercising, or going for a walk and getting fresh air.
- Giving in to your distractions for a while.
- Doing nothing at all.
To solve the problem of how to focus on writing, some famous authors do outrageous things to combat their Writer’s Block. For example:
- Dan Brown (author of The Da Vinci Code) uses anti-gravity boots to hang from the ceiling.
- Roald Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda) wrote from a sleeping bag.
- Victor Hugo (author of Les Misérables) wrote in the nude.
These strange systems and coping mechanisms worked for these luminaries. After all, they’ve created incredible works of written art. But you don’t have to resort to such extreme measures.
I believe that you don’t have to experience Writer’s Block at all. Let me explain:
Over the years, as a copywriter and a teacher to thousands of students, I’ve noticed that those who obsessively study their material rarely get stuck.
How to Focus on Writing Solution #1: Know Your Material Like The Back of Your Hand
What does it mean to know your material like the back of your hand? It means you have to research, research, research. Use Google. Go to the library. Interview your client and their audience. Read case studies and forums and articles. Get to know as much as you can about your topic. In short, become an expert on what you’re writing. When you know the material, it becomes so much easier to write what you need to write.
After all the research, you’ll be able to answer your reader’s questions with confidence. Your expert knowledge and your conviction when presenting it will be evident in your writing. Thorough research will set you apart as an authority figure – someone trustworthy. And isn’t that what the aim of content writing is? To be the go-to authority that answers the reader’s questions? It’s the very essence of content creation. The reader must trust the source. And you must sound like you know what you’re talking about.You don't have to experience Writer's Block at all. - Dan Lok Click To Tweet
So before you start writing a single word, make sure you do some extensive research. Once you’ve done that, imagine that you are chatting with your favorite client. Picture yourselves in a comfortable, relaxed environment. Imagine what questions they’re asking and then give them the answer.
Write it down – and there’s your first piece of content. Imagine what your ideal client might ask next, and put that in writing too. You can turn common questions into blog post topics. Let me know how conducting research eliminates your Writer’s Block. On to the second issue:
Problem #2: I Keep Getting Stuck at the Beginning
Let’s imagine for a moment that you’ve done your research, and you’ve begun answering your ideal client’s questions. But for some reason, you can’t get past the first few paragraphs. Or even past the first few words. You type them out, then hit the backspace button. Then you type something else out and delete that too.
I see this problem often, especially among newer writers. And it’s often made worse by looming deadlines. From what I’ve seen among my students, there are a few possible root causes at play here that are causing issues with how to focus on writing:
- Lack of Confidence: Maybe you weren’t good at English in school, or perhaps English is not your first language. Whatever it is, you may find yourself second-guessing every word you write.
- Perfectionism: Maybe you feel that you aren’t as good as other writers you’ve seen. So you might end up starting over and over again until you’ve got it perfect. Perfectionism can slow you down.
- Absence of Structure: It’s possible that you don’t know how to make your writing flow. So, you find yourself starting over with different pieces of content, trying to piece them together in the right way. If this is your experience, you might be lacking a solid structure. To develop some structure before you start, try writing out an outline with all your subheading ideas first.
Whichever form “getting stuck at the beginning” takes for you, you might feel like you’ll never learn how to focus on writing. You might as well be banging your head against a wall. The truth is, if you keep this up too long, you’ll only give up or collapse under the burn out very soon.
But I want you to know that you shouldn’t give up just yet. I have some suggestions that might help you.
How to Focus on Writing Solution #2: Practice Trusting Yourself
Practice improving your mindset until you can let go of trying to be perfect. While this doesn’t sound like conventional wisdom, I’ve seen it work time and time again for my students. Those who work on an attitude of gratitude and compete only with themselves are often the ones that make the most significant improvements as writers. A healthy mindset is the key to unlocking your mind. You would be setting your thoughts free from a prison of your own making.
I hope you give it a real try. But if you don’t believe in mindset work, that’s alright too. I have some other suggestions on how to focus on writing so that you notice a difference right away:
- Find a great content writer or copywriter you admire. Then, using a pen and paper, hand copy an article they wrote. This process helps your brain recognize and familiarize itself with great content and how it’s written. Try it even though it seems tedious. Because when it comes time for you to write, you’ll be able to replicate a great style.
- Type or journal 500 words daily. But wait. There’s a catch. You aren’t allowed to stop for any reason. When you write without stopping, you enter the stream of consciousness. The more you practice this exercise, the easier it will be for you to enter a state of flow on demand. It will also develop your ability to think and form ideas on the go.
- Join a course. Having a mentor to guide you can take the guesswork out of how to focus on writing. You’ll have access to proven copywriting techniques and significant structures to chart your work. And to top it off, you’ll have classmates to keep you accountable along the way. You’ll have a support group.
- Use brainstorming and mind-mapping techniques to put your thoughts on paper. I have a large whiteboard in my office that I prefer to use for this purpose. Sometimes it’s easier to move things around when you can see it all laid out in front of you.
Once you get the hang of these strategies, you’ll be able to enter your zone of flow and know how to focus on writing whenever you want. So keep at it until you get it.
Problem #3: I Don’t Have Anything Original Left to Write
Have you ever felt like all you’re doing is writing the same thing over and over again? Nothing you write feels unique in concept. And that’s a problem. It’s like running around the track at the same time every day. You see the same people, the same trees, the same houses. It gets boring after a while, doesn’t it?
There are other ways this problem can show up as well. Your brain might feel slow and sluggish, almost like it’s filled with nothing but molasses. Or you may feel as though it’s fried and won’t give up another single idea.
So how do you write from unique, fresh, and exciting perspectives?
Before I share some techniques with you, I want to say that I’ve seen many of my students struggle with this issue. After all, trying to come up with original ideas when you don’t know how to focus on writing can be a challenge.
I also want to assure you that coming up with ideas and being able to focus on writing go hand in hand more than anything else because when you write something interesting and exciting, you are invested. And there’s nothing quite like writing with passion. So here are some techniques to help you:
How to Focus on Writing Solution #3: Switch it up With Something Different
One of the first things to try is being alone. Without Google or anything else to look at. Without anything to listen to other than your thoughts. If you can manage this, you might come up with creative ideas that surprise you.
But if that doesn’t work, one of the best ways to come up with ideas is to experience a lot of different things. I recommend that you read a book by James Webb Young entitled A Technique for Producing Ideas. In it, he expands on these fives simple steps:
Step 1: Gather raw material. Seek out as many new experiences as you can. Keep an idea journal, and write in it whatever you find interesting. That way you have all your ideas in one place and can refer to it later.
Step 2: Digest the material. Catalog your new information. Consider how your freshly gathered experiences fit with your content.
Step 3: Allow your subconscious to process the material. Step away from the project. Try not to even think about it. Your subconscious mind will continue to work on the puzzle.
Step 4: Let your aha! moment come to you. If you did everything right until now, you’ll have a eureka moment. It’ll just come to you, and you’ll say aha!
Step 5: Flesh your new idea out. It’s time to write that new, fresh, and exciting perspective out and see what it looks like on paper.
The greatest copy and content writers of all time have used these methods to generate brilliant ideas. So take note of these older methods about how to focus on writing because they still work and will work well into the future.
A Reminder About Stopping and Starting When Writing
Another issue I often see with my students when they are starting is that they interrupt their flow of writing regularly to do this:
- Edit what they’ve written so far (self-editing).
- Check their phone.
- Get up for a drink or a snack.
Then they ask me whether I have tips for how to focus on writing. Does this sound like you too? If so, then I’ll share the suggestions with you that I share with them. Use the Pomodoro Technique or enter the flow state to write with a stream of consciousness. Get all your thoughts on paper without stopping. Yes, you should proofread and edit your work, but not until the end.
Every time you stop to edit, you are interrupting the flow. So edit after you’ve finished.
Block out chunks of time in your schedule where you do nothing but write. Time blocking is the biggest tip I can give you on how to focus on writing. Here are some apps that can make it easier to eliminate distractions:
- FocusWriter allows you to hide your interface so that you see nothing on your screen but your written work.
- OmmWriter creates a calming, distraction-free environment for Mac users.
- Flowstate is an app that lets you turn writing into a game (it deletes text if you stop writing).
Tools You Should Know How to Use as a Freelance Writer
There are many resources available to freelance writers. Of them, I recommend these three to my students and mentees:
- Google Docs is a web-based word processor like Microsoft Word. Writers and clients who work remotely can easily use Google Docs to share, view, comment, and edit documents in real-time. Because it’s connected to your email, you’ll never have to worry about losing your writing, not even if you lose your laptop.
- Hemingway App is a writing tool that helps you simplify your writing as it highlights complex sentences. It also brings problem areas to your attention so that you can make appropriate changes to improve the readability and strength of your writing.
- Grammarly, like the Hemingway App, polishes your writing. Its primary focus is on correcting grammatical inconsistencies.
So here’s the complete simple process:
- Write your first draft without stopping in Google Docs.
- Do the first edit in the Hemingway App.
- Go through the document for final edits in Grammarly.
Follow these steps, and you will have a great piece of content without the headache.
If you like these topics, have a look at other articles on my blog, as they might give you more insight on how to focus on writing or how to start a freelancing business.
Knowing How to Focus on Writing and the Right Environment Can Set You up to Earn 6-Figures
Learning how to focus on writing is not easy. But with a few tips and tricks, it can be simpler for you. I hope that you use the solutions and suggestions in this article.
You are now on your way to being able to focus on your writing. No more blank screens and wandering minds. Just constant and consistent content. Let me know which tools work the best for you and whether you enjoy knowing how to focus on writing without distractions.
One single article, however, isn’t enough to go in-depth on the various ways you can maximize your time and productivity to write.
That’s why I’ve put together a 7-week intensive, interactive program that teaches you more writing hacks, secrets, and proven formulas. The best thing about it is the community that keeps you accountable until you have it figured out.
I often tell my students that writing is a team sport, not a solitary activity. It’s so much more than just knowing how to focus on writing. When you write alongside other like-minded people, you will stay motivated and achieve your goals faster. With the support and guidance of their peers, average writers can earn an extraordinary income.
So if you would like to learn more about this training, then I invite you to join me by clicking here to reserve your spot in the free webinar. Join me and learn to be a focused writer – no matter what type of writing you chose to focus on.