Last week, I talked about setting targets for your writing sessions as a way to help you to achieve your writing goals. This week, I will talk about one of the benefits of setting those targets — focus. Setting such targets helps you to focus. At least, it does for me. That’s not to say that is all that you have to do, focus is more than simply having a target number of words to shoot for. While having a session target helps, it is not the whole story. You need to focus on what it is that you are writing about. Sometimes you need a topic. So before you start a writing piece, you need at least two things, a target word count and a topic. Of course that depends on what you are writing. If you are writing an essay or something longer, you will need the topic and possibly an outline. If all you are doing is writing a short piece like a journal entry, or a letter to the editor, you may only need the word count target. For my blog, I start with a target that is between four and five hundred words. Then, I need a topic which allows me to focus on a single item. That’s my writing process. Your’s may be different.
Focus, in this instance, is just concentration with fewer letters. If you are going to do something well, you need to concentrate or focus on it. Narrow your world to that one task and you will complete it and complete it well. Of course, that is much easier said than done. Sometimes, my writing will jump all over the place. On those kinds of days, my personal journal is filled with one sentence paragraphs, each with different topics. Having focus eliminates that. I get long, more concise paragraphs and actually communicate something. That’s what writing is — communicating. Even fiction communicates to the reader. Unfocused writing is miscommunication. To avoid miscommunication, you need to focus your thoughts and your writing.
Session targets and topics can help you to write your piece well, but without focus, it could end up a jumbled mess. If you need to, put on virtual reality goggles and use your phone to write. Put on headphones to deaden the sound around you, or give you access to your playlist. The point is that you need to eliminate the distractions. Close Facebook. Turn off your notifications. These are extreme measures, but if you have having trouble focusing they may be necessary so that you can achieve the goal you are moving for.
Sometimes, all you need is a target to reach. Other times, you need a topic. You will always need self discipline because it takes discipline and focus to write well and that is the goal here. Focus on your topic and your writing and the work will be better for it. You need to make sure that what you are writing has your entire attention. Eliminate distractions and focus on what you’re writing now. That’s the trick. That’s focus.