Dealing with feeling scattered as a writer

This entry is part 12 of 19 in the series A No-Excuses Guide to Blogging

Maybe there are writers who sit down at their keyboards and type out their thoughts in one straight sitting. Maybe there are people who can focus on one project and see it to the end. I’m not one of those people (yet?) – I move from interest to interest, and somehow it works out anyway. It turns out lots of people are like this, too.

I was talking to a writer who felt scattered because she wrote about lots of different topics in bits and pieces. Here are some tips on planning, organization, writing, and improvement. Hope they help!

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2013-12-13 Dealing with feeling scattered as a writer

I’d love to learn from your tips too! Please share them in the comments. =)

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  • Stephen Mostrom


    Thank you for the post!

    Feeling scattered is a symptom every good writer I know faces. One technique I’ve used to successfully combat it is self-impose constraints.

    Legend has it, Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story using only six words. He embraced the challenge and shortly came up with, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

    Sometimes the problem with writing is that there are simply too many options – too many directions an article or story could go – and you face decision-overload. By imposing constraints on yourself, you narrow those options. This can lead to great insight!

    Any constraint will do. Some common ones are word count, using a specific term or motif repeatedly, or trying out a new writing style. My personal favorite – on the fiction side – is to force my character to do something truly memorable.

    Hope this helps.

    • I like constraints. The clarity is great for creativity. =) I tend to not constrain interest, but constrain form. That way, I work with the grain of my interest instead of against it, but I challenge myself to reach certain targets.

  • Sacha! This is such a cool post and came at a perfect time for me. I love your idea of adaptations instead of changes. I have a lot of the same problems you do, in terms of feeling scattered. I decided to embrace it. Here’s what has worked for me recently:

    -Keep a list of projects I want to work on on my weekly calendar.
    -Just focus on one project every day for an hour. When the hour is done, I’m done!
    -I use an outline for my book and approach every part of the outline as a project.
    -I use Evernote for researching my book. It has been so helpful for keeping me less scattered.

    And in terms of losing interest, I think embracing diversity is your best bet :) I have been trying to cultivate a habit of going through my old journals to find old writing ideas. That’s not off the ground yet, but I think if I make time for it in the future, it will definitely help me and following up on projects.