#ThrowBackThursday: Ingermanson on How to keep Focused

Do you have trouble to stay focused on your writing? I have and so far I haven’t found a way to get around that. But it’s time to change being unfocused now!

“Trouble staying focused on your #amwriting? Here are tips on how to change that!”

So I’ve come back to Randy Ingermansons newsletter “The Advanced Fiction Writing” for guidance and I want to share this article with you:

Ingermanson on “How to keep focused”

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 15,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
I can only encourage you to sign up to his newsletter. It’s always good advice on anything writing- and publishing-related. Enjoy!

How to Keep Focused

Half the battle is staying focused. With all the day-to-day chaos that comes with normal life, it’s easy to get off track and forget what you were supposed to be focused on.

Many people make an annual plan to get back on track at the beginning of each year. I’ve done this for many years, and I’m always struck by how different my year was from the year I’d planned. My most successful years have been the ones when I stayed on track. But it seems that most years, things got off track quickly and stayed off track for the rest of the year.

This year, I was a little tired of making an annual plan that didn’t pan out, so I decided not to make one. If you don’t have a plan, then you can’t get off track, right?

That turned out to be a mistake. By April, I felt like my year wasn’t going the way I wanted, but since I didn’t have a plan, it was unclear exactly what that meant.

So in April, I decided to do a quarterly review and make a plan for the coming quarter. I’m a fan of simplicity, so here’s what I did:

  1. I read through my personal journal for the past three months.
  2. I made a list of about three projects I’d like to get done in each of the four major areas of my life.

I made an aggressive plan for Q2, with a total of thirteen projects. I worked hard on some of them and not at all on others of them. The good news is that I actually completed two major projects in Q2 and started two others. That felt a bit like a success. But there were nine projects I didn’t start at all, so I wouldn’t call it a huge success. For me, the important thing is that I got two major projects completed, which was better than Q1. It’s a good feeling to complete something.

In my quarterly review in July, I made a plan for Q3 that was a bit less aggressive. It had only eleven projects. Q3 is now over, so I recently did a quarterly review and was surprised to see just how much I’d got done. This time I completed three major projects and made good progress on two others. I also completed several other major projects that were not on the plan but they came up so I tackled them. That still left six projects in the Q3 plan that I didn’t get to at all. Some of those are now in the Q4 plan, and some of them I’ve decided are less important.

My Q4 plan has twelve projects. One of those is already completed and four are in progress. It would be great to get at least those four done by the end of the year. It would be even greater to get all twelve done, but I’m going to take what I can get.

One thing I’ve learned is that you lose track of a quarterly plan unless you keep it visible. But how do you keep it visible?

Here’s what I do: I have a template in Scrivener that I use to make a daily plan. It has a link to my current quarterly plan. Each day when I fill out my daily plan, I click that link and review the current plan. It takes only a few seconds, and it serves as a daily reminder of the big picture. And then when I fill out my daily plan, I’ve got some motivation to schedule time for the important projects in my life.


Are you keeping a daily journal of what you’re doing in your life? If not, start one. You can’t do a review at the end of the quarter if you have no record of what you did. A journal doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s enough to write a few sentences telling the things you worked on that day. I prefer an electronic record because it’s easier, but a handwritten journal would work just fine.

Do you have a plan for the current quarter? If not, make a list of the main areas of your life. Under each one, write a few things you’d like to achieve by the end of this quarter. Find a way to make it visible on a daily basis. A low-tech way to do this is to print it out and post it at your work area where you can’t help seeing it. The key thing is to look at it every day when you’re planning your day. Some days are crazy and you can’t possibly work on your important projects. But some days you can. If you take advantage of the good days, you can do amazing stuff.

Are you doing a quarterly review? If not, schedule one for a date near the end of this quarter. Some people like to take a full day for this. Personally, I prefer an hour, because I’m more likely to do it if it only takes an hour. Schedule it on your calendar. Then do it.

Thanks, Mr Ingermanson for helping us change and stay focused!

Related Posts:

A Scribe to describe: Focus: Bane of my writing

Shan Jeniah: Purposely narrowing my focus

But I Smile Anyway: #RiNoWriMo ~ The Finale #candothis? #Ididit!

Now go and focus


you can do it!