Writing Tip For Motivation Monday: The Attention Secret

It’s time for this week’s motivational writing tip.

I’m currently rereading Anthony Trollope’s Palliser novels for the umpteenth time, and since many authors are tackling NaNoWriMo, this quote from Trollope’s autobiography is appropriate:

“When I have commenced a new book, I have always prepared a diary, divided into weeks, and carried it on for the period which I have allowed myself for the completion of the work.”

If you want to write a book, creating a diary/ journal will definitely help.


Because you’re paying attention. In today’s world, with our phones and social media providing constant distraction, a writing journal or diary helps you pay attention and stay on track with your writing projects.

A writing diary isn’t just for authors, either.

Writing tip: pay attention. Write about your writing

Many years ago, when I was much more prone to distraction and procrastination than I am today, although I still procrastinate a lot, I discovered the value of writing about my writing.

I found that if I made a brief note about a writing commission as soon as I received it, it primed the pump. A day or a week later, when it was time to work on the commission, I didn’t procrastinate. It was as if by writing a sentence or five about the project, my subconscious mind had mulled it over and generated ideas.

Over time, I proved the value of a writing log to myself: if I want to get things done, I need to keep track of what I’m doing, in writing.

Your writing diary: use whatever feels comfortable

I think better when I hand write, so I keep couple of paper journals, bullet journal style. These handwritten journals are strictly for thinking and making brief notes on word counts, ideas, research sources, etc.

For business tasks like scheduling my own and client projects, I use ClickUp. For storing research, ideas and drafts I use Evernote, Obsidian and Curio.

For many years, I wanted to go all-digital, all the time.

Then I realized the one big benefit of handwriting my journals: I could see what I was feeling at the time I made the entry. Small, relaxed notes meant that I was feeling relaxed and organized. Large scrawls meant I felt disorganized and irritated, etc.

A secret: if you force yourself to write in a relaxed fashion when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’ll regain your sense of control. Handwriting is powerful.

Big writing tip: set a goal and track it in your journal

If you want to achieve a goal, try using Trollope’s method: keep a diary for the goal. Yes, an entire notebook, either paper or digital.

Reasons? Here you go:

  • You’ll remember your goal: it will remain at the forefront of your mind (schedule a time to write in your notebook twice a day);
  • Ideas to help you to achieve the goal will magically occur to you (thanks to your subconscious mind);
  • When your motivation flags, reading your notebook will revive it.

Try this week’s writing tip. Paying attention might just change your writing—and your life. 🙂

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