But books, articles, and blog posts won't write themselves, which means writers need to concentrate long enough to complete them. So what should you do to stay focused?
1. Set small goals. There's that word again—goals. Break your writing down into manageable word count blocks (for instance, 500 words) or agree to write for a certain amount of time, like one to two hours. Having a goal to work toward helps me immensely when I'm trying to maintain focus.
2. Turn off electronic distractions. This came up in my creativity killers post, and I'll mention it again because it can't be emphasized enough. Turn off the distractions. Close your e-mail program, turn off your cell phone, and avoid social media until your writing for the day is complete. Better yet, close your web browser so the minimized window won't be lingering down at the bottom of the screen taunting you.
3. Create a schedule or to-do list. If you have multiple writing projects active at once (novels, short stories, articles, etc.), create a writing schedule with specific time slots for each. That way you won't be working on one project and wondering if you should give some attention to another because you already know when you'll get to it. Remember the 6 Ps: Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.
4. Acknowledge the distraction. Have you ever tried meditating only to have thoughts intrude? If your mind wanders while you're writing, the concept is the same. Acknowledge that this will happen occasionally, and accept the distraction for what it is. And then gently remind yourself of your goal and return to your writing.
5. Reward yourself. Create small rewards when you meet those small goals. Allow yourself a bit of time to indulge in one of those distractions, go for a walk, have lunch with a friend, or something that is not writing related so you can return to your desk refreshed.
Whatever you do, don't beat yourself up when you get distracted. It will only lead to self-defeating thinking and possibly cause you to give up for the day. If focus is a serious problem for you, consider meditating before you start writing. It won't solve all of your problems, but it will definitely help.