You don’t really need to worry about concentrating per se. As long as you put in the time, you can be as mentally distracted as you *want.* The concentration will eventually just “kick in” after a few days of doing it. I am very distractible by nature, so I know what I am talking about.

Of course, there are ways of removing distractions, like turning off your phone or email while you are working. You can deliberately avoid multi-tasking if that is helpful. What I am saying is that you don’t have to worry about the concentration per se. Regularity of working habits is the main remedy, not some internal concentration mojo that must be cultivated on its own terms. In this way concentration is similar to inspiration: neither has to exist before the work happens.

The most useful advice on writing I’ve ever received comes from Gil Rogin, who told me that he always uses his best thing in his lead, and his second best thing in his last paragraph; and from Dwight Macdonald, who wrote that the best advice he ever received was to put everything on the same subject in the same place. To these dictums I would add the advice to ask yourself repeatedly: what is this about?

THOMAS POWERS