What helps you concentrate?

There are days when absolutely everything is a distraction. Despite all the ideas and inspiration you may have, there will inevitably be times where you find it more than a little difficult to just sit at your desk/computer/spot and write. This can be for many reasons; noise outside, a cluttered brain, or simple lack of motivation.

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Sometimes something as simple as a cup of tea can help

Here are some simple tips to help you concentrate better and get your writing done.

  1. Clear your desk. You’ll be amazed how much a clear working space can improve your concentration.
  2. Get rid of those distractions – or if you can’t, find ways to ignore them. If it’s noisy outside, close all the windows. If music helps you concentrate, put some on to drown out off-putting background noise.
  3. Clear your head. Easier said than done maybe, but a simple way to at least begin doing this is to perform a menial task, like washing up. It’s something that doesn’t require any brain power, freeing up your mind to return to your current piece of creative work. Don’t force the ideas, though; just make sure your work is on your mind and they should flow naturally.
  4. Inspire yourself. Sometimes you sit down to write with the best of intentions, but find that as soon as you get ready to work your motivation has suddenly evaporated. Your mind wanders; you check Facebook five times before you write one word; you just can’t concentrate. Close your laptop, put your notebook back in the drawer and go and do something to inspire yourself. Watch a recording of your favourite band/musician in concert; read a little by an author you admire; even go for a walk. You’ll soon find your motivation is back.

The final and most important tip is to not beat yourself up for not getting anything done. Sylvia Plath once said ‘the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.’ If you are hard on yourself for your lack of productivity and begin to doubt your abilities, you’ll find you won’t be getting very far any time soon. See a minor hurdle for what it is: a day where you found it hard to concentrate. There are going to be better, more productive days in your future.

4 Easy Ways to Begin Promoting Your Writing

719093To make the understatement of the millennium, there are a lot of writers in the world and promoting yourself on the internet is not easy. When you’re just starting out, it can seem overwhelming. It is; making a dent on the internet, let alone promoting your work, is not a walk in the park smelling flowers. It’s more like a marathon through thousands of acres with bricks glued to the bottom of your shoes and sewage scented mutant flowers that bite you when you trip over them.

Okay, it’s not really that bad. But it is tough.

The following are four easy ways you can begin promoting your writing, blog, e-book etc instantly, on the internet and beyond.

  1. Don’t have Twitter? Get Twitter. Got Twitter? Good. Now start making the best of it. Sometimes you will see accounts where the owner is only following 200 people, but she herself will have thousands of followers. He or she has either been very lucky, or is Justin Bieber; it’s often unrealistic and not what you should be aiming for. To get followers, you have to follow a lot of people. Twitter will usually have a list of suggestions of people to follow on the home page. Follow them. Follow publishing houses, follow blogs, follow book promotion services, follow other writers, follow, follow, FOLLOW. It may take some time, but people WILL follow you back. Eventually you will find people following you without you having to do anything at all.Well, not nothing at all. Whilst you follow and get followers, tweet. Tweet your behind off. Tweet every time you make a blog post – some services will even link Twitter with your blog account to post automatically. Tweet intriguing sentences from your new book – just that, hook people with them – and provide a link to where they can buy it from. Every spare moment, tweet about what you do. Be witty. Be endearing. Don’t worry about being a nuisance – you can never tweet too much. For a small fee you can even find companies who will automatically post tweets for you several times a day.
  2. Be social – make friends with other writers. Whether this is through Twitter or not, support them and promote them and they will do the same for you. Read their work and write them a review. They’ll appreciate it and often return the favour. They know how hard it is just as well as you do.
  3. Whilst the internet might seem to be the best place to promote yourself, actually it’s not always. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth when it comes to promoting your writing. No, really – don’t. Tell people what you do – friends, family, the postman, it doesn’t matter. Get people interested. My father, a car painter, once told one of his clients about my e-books. He googled me there and then. And don’t forget people tell their friends and family too; I sold a few books that way. A recent university project involved a group of friends and me putting together a collection of spoof fan-mail, which we promoted by sticking posters everywhere around campus we could get away with and telling absolutely everybody about. The result? A number of people at the course’s launch event, just to see us, and a local radio interview. Small steps lead to big victories.
  4. Make a Facebook ‘Like’ page for your blog, your book, or even for yourself as a writer. Fill in all the information and make sure you have a decent picture. Invite everybody on your friends list, regardless if you haven’t spoken to them in many years. Many people will see your name and ‘like’ it out of a sense of duty as your friend or acquaintance; others will show more genuine interest, or will have friends who will. The point is to get yourself out there. Get seen. Link with Twitter. Tweet about your page or blog about it. Go have fun.

These are just four solid, simple and very useful ways to get started. It takes work and it takes time – but be committed and patient and you’ll find it goes a long way.