Are you struggling with focus and concentration?

Welcome to April’s instalment of ‘Writerly Witterings,’ the monthly blog I write to support, inspire and motivate other writers.  This month’s topic deals with writing focus.

Lots of writers are telling me of their loss of writing focus throughout this time, something which is also affecting me as a writer.

Many of us are glued to the news, to social media and to the daily statistics.  We are living through a tumultuous story of our own, which can make it difficult to create anything else.

Concentration can also be problematic with our thoughts and worries often swirling uncontrollably.

Below, I have offered some tips for writers who are still wanting to write but finding focus difficult.

  • Have a special place to go, which is just for your writing. You might want to refer to a previous blog post I have written on creating a writing space.
  • Minimise distractions. Don’t try to write with the TV or radio in the background, or with your mobile phone beside you.  If working on the computer, maybe disable the internet for a short time.
  • Set aside a sacred daily writing time. For me, early morning is the best time.  (Before watching the news.)
  • Have a pre-writing ritual to calm and relax the mind, for example, lighting a candle, visualisation, classical music or breathing exercises.
  • Write for short bursts. Tell yourself you will sit for ten to fifteen minutes at a time and if you end up spending longer, that is great.

For the moment, all my face-to-face writing workshops, courses and retreats are not taking place, but I’m continuing to send course sessions through distance learning to the writers who have been working with me.

I’m also halfway through providing a free mini-writing course which appears to be succeeding in what I set out to do; to provide distraction and immersion in creative writing through this extremely troubled time.

In this course, the daily writing prompts offered have been in opposition to the crisis we are in right now, instead they have been more retrospective or forward looking.

However, it can be good therapy to explore our responses to the situation we are living through, so below, I have offered some writing prompts:

  • Write about how you will spend the first day of the new beginning when we return to normal. How will it have changed you?  What, if anything, will the world have learned from it?
  • Journal about how you are feeling right now.
  • Write a letter to or a poem about to the person or thing you are missing the most throughout lock down.
  • Write as though we’re ten years on from now, giving an account of what happened and how you felt about it.
  • Write a ‘living bucket list’ of everything you want to do once life returns to normal.
  • Take one of these items and flesh it out into a narrative or a poem giving the event you want to make happen a clear beginning, middle and end.

How are you feeling?  Are you managing to write anything throughout this time?  Post your thoughts into the comments box below.  I always say that no matter what we are facing, we are very blessed as writers to have pen and page as therapy – we can either explore how we are feeling or we can use our writing to facilitate ‘escape.’

Of course, if you find yourself completely unable to write at this time, it is something you will be able to pick back up in the foreseeable future, when hopefully, life starts to regain some normality again.

Take care, stay safe and keep in touch.

With very best wishes,

Maria

PS:  My husband and I are running a marathon in our garden on Tuesday 14th April to raise funds for Women’s Aid at this time where calls to domestic abuse helplines have risen by 25%.  Click here for our JustGiving page if you are able to support us. Here is a poem I have written:

Locked Down

It’s week three of being miserably trapped,
trying to shield their kids from his wrath.
His frustration and boredom rise every day,
but now she has no chance to get away.

His drinking increases as day becomes night,
a hardened face as he spoils for a fight.
She cowers in fear as he raises his voice,
forced now to hear him, she has no choice.

A meal ‘not to scratch,’ he receives with a frown,
her energy sapped as his fist hammers down.
Broken furniture, walls full of holes,
to sap her confidence fulfils all his goals.

She cries silently beside his sleeping form,
wishing the next day would never dawn.
It’s hard enough being locked away at home,
but for now, she has never felt more alone.

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