Just breathe.

Who knew I’d have to practice breathing?

My husband is a chaplain and is often telling me to take a deep breath, especially when I’ve bombarded him with all the reasons why my writing isn’t working or how lousy I feel or how I’ll never figure this out.

He reminds me to breathe first, then think.

Just to please him, I take a deep breath. Wow. Like letting air out of a balloon, suddenly the mind slows down and thoughts return to a normal speed. I can think again.

(I love Jonny Diaz singing a song entitled “Breathe.” Listen to it on youtube or Pandora.

Besides breathing, I have found a few other tricks to help me re-focus and re-connect when my mind spins out of control.

5 More Tricks to Get Writing

  • Enable distraction-free typing. Similar to removing the phone from my vicinity (or turning it off), I can let go of worrying that I might miss something simply because I’m not looking at it.
  • Make a list of tasks, then cover up all but one. If you use a digital list, make a note of one of those tasks and lay it in front of you.
  • Jot a time for each task either as a time (15 minutes) or in a time slot (2:00-2:15 p.m.) If I know that I have 20 minutes to work on one manuscript, it’s easier to let go of other writing tasks knowing that they are scheduled or will get attention next.
  • Choose one thing. If many are important, don’t spend more than a minute or two figuring out which one first, just get going.
  • Discipline yourself to think of that one thing, then go.

I look forward to days when I can have larger blocks of time, but for now, I discipline myself to do what works.

Do I want to write? Then this is what I must do.

Do you want to write? Then this is what you must do.

Take a deep breath. You have time for that.

Give yourself permission to work on one writing task without distraction, so you can do the next thing, also without distraction.

If, when your day is done, you made progress in at least one area, it will be worth the discipline and the effort that discipline required.

So, breathe, and write at your best!


P.S. What tricks do you use to get yourself to concentrate on the writing at hand? Share in the comments and I might try yours.

Coming Up!

A new series of interviews with writers at all stages from not-yet-published to multiple-published. I’ll begin with an interview with a lovely person working on writing nonfiction – look for it on Tuesday!