Writers and Their Processes: How Do They Focus?
Writing requires concentration and persistence. How do the pros maintain consistent output?
When I was younger, I assumed I’d always be inspired to write. Surely, the creative muse would be by my side whenever I needed her, and I’d approach every blank page with excitement and enthusiasm. If you’re a writer and you’re reading this, you’re probably already laughing.
Now, I know that isn’t the case. I love writing. But, some days, it’s a… A slog. Like any writer, I have my tricks. Changing location often helps. Sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by people can shame me into focusing on my laptop, instead of pausing to read about the latest BookTok scandals. Music can also be useful on some days — I have my “Writing Trance State” mix on Spotify for that purpose. On other days, only dead silence will do.
But what about the greats? What do they do when they get stuck or a deadline is looming? Curious, I did some research. Here are my three favorites:
- Haruki Murakami is known for getting up early (4:00 a.m.!?) to write. He then goes running or swimming in the late afternoons or early evenings. He’s spoken on his strict routine, describing it as a sort of rigorous training. It gives him the focus he needs to get the work done.
- Maya Angelou is notorious for using a hotel room to write. She’d lease it on a monthly basis and to there every day. Also: She requested that any artwork or decorations be removed from the room, eliminating distractions.
- E.B. White has a very different approach. The “Charlotte’s Web” author didn’t try to escape everyday distractions — in fact, he spoke of being able to write “despite the carnival that is going on all around me” at home. For White, waiting on the ideal writing conditions meant you might never get anything down at all.
As this list proves, every writer has their own hacks for breaking through the productivity barrier. At the end of the day, though, my favorite writing advice comes from the prolific Danielle Steel. She boils it down to just one thing: “You just have to plant your bottom in a chair, keep it there, and do it. There’s not a lot of mystery to it.” There’s no arguing with that.
Thank you for reading! This is a space where I share personal thoughts — an opportunity for self-expression that has nothing to do with my professional writing. None of the thoughts or opinions expressed in this blog should be construed as anything but my own, nor should they be affiliated with any company or person I contract with or write for.
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