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My 8 Essential Hacks to Being a Focused, Healthy Writing Machine
By Travis John
Most writers agree that anything can take priority to their writing, even dreadful chores. And that great prose is nothing short of a miracle every time it rises to the surface. In the spirit of staying focused, healthy and cranking out writing that makes you smile, I’d like to share a few of my favorite tools and tips that help me write well, and manage my urges to do anything but write.
Getting Into the Writing Zone
I like to force myself to write without editing. My process is to set the timer on my music app, and then throw ALL the rules of writing out the window and just write freely. That means I don’t worry about grammar, sentence structure, capitalization, punctuation—anything. I don’t do any editing at all; I just write. And when I let go of these rules, the results are liberating. After adopting this new technique with my writing, I was more creative and productive.
Remove Writing Speed Bumps
One of my favorite writing tips to keep me in the flow state when I’m writing came from Neil Strauss. It’s a simple thing he calls “To Come” or TK. Anytime I don’t know what I’m going to say, or I’m stuck on anything at all. I don’t stop what I’m doing or take the time to research or even think about it. I just type “TK,” which means to come—this is the stuff that I’ll fill in at a later time. The reason it’s TK and not TC is because there are no words or spell-checking associated with TK. So you can go back to all your TKs in any word processing application and finish your work at a later time.
Writing is Unhealthy
Sitting for long hours writing is unhealthy. So how do I write without sitting as much? I use a standing desk. You can see my standing desk at www.5hourauthor.com/standing-desk.
I don’t know about you, but there are times when I struggle with getting (and staying) focused on writing. Especially when I am working on projects that need lots of deep and creative thought. My favorite way to get into the zone is to listen to music on the Focus@Will app or its website.
I select the type of music I want to listen to and how long I want to focus. The service does the rest. It helps me get into deep levels of concentration, which makes me more productive in less time.
Focus@will is a neuroscience-based music service that helps you focus and reduce distractions. The technology is proven to extend your attention span and productivity cycles. You’ll find more info at www.FocusAtWill.com
Another focus hack that works for me is using the Momentum Dash extension for Google Chrome. Whenever I open a new tab in Chrome, I see an inspiring reminder of what I want to do that day. Not a gateway into the internet black hole. This simple tweak reminds me to stay on track. It prevents me from the constant loop of checking email. It keeps me from jumping online for something that’s usually not important. You can check it out at www.MomentumDash.com
Automated Editing Tools
Grammarly is an automated proofreader that follows me around all day. It makes me a better writer by finding and correcting my mistakes. It even gives me occasional word suggestions so I can sound more intelligent.
Grammarly is like a Big Brother for your everyday writing and communications. It even follows you around the internet. So whether you’re writing an email in Gmail. Or, sending someone a message on LinkedIn or writing a letter, Grammarly’s got your back. But aside from an intelligent software robot that helps fix and diversify your writing, they also have professional proofreaders available to double-check your most challenging assignments. Check it out at www.Grammarly.com
Hemingway scans and analyzes my writing then highlights the areas that need improvement. It points out wordy sentences, adverbs, and passive voice. It also identifies the unnecessary words and phrases that are getting in my way. Allowing me to write with power and clarity.
A powerful combination. I love to use Grammarly’s grammar and proofreading features inside Hemingway’s online editor. Get started at www.HemingwayApp.com
Audio On Demand
One of my favorite ways to review my work is to use the speech function on Mac computers. I highlight the text that I want to listen to, select the “Speech” option and then “Start Speaking.” I can listen to it right away, or I can select “Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track” if I want to save it as an audio file. I can identify any inconsistencies that I didn’t catch during the reading process. Plus, when I listen to what I have written it puts me in the shoes of the reader.
There are also mobile apps that do text-to-speech. The one I use is Voicepaper. I like it because it reads my notes and documents from Evernote and Dropbox. You can check it out at www.VoicePaperApp.com.
These tips are from my recent book, “The 5-Hour Author, How to Author a Client-Getting Book in Just 5 Hours ” It’s a guide to help business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to write their first book.
You can read the book on PressBooks at 5HourAuthor.PressBooks.com.
Travis is the founder and chief strategist of Travis John Agency LLC. He is an innovator and well-known marketing and sales strategist who spends most of his time helping Already Successful™ business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals build client-getting machines. He’s the author of The 5-Hour Author and The Paparazzi-Free Property Sale, proudly published using PressBooks. Find out more at www.TravisJohn.com