Ah! Those annoying phone calls! Those text messages! Those email alerts and Facebook updates and Tweets! Not to mention the coworkers, the kids outside, the sirens and the construction! How can a writer ever concentrate long enough in all this hullaballoo to get anything written? How do you continue a thought when you have so many interruptions and distractions all around you? Well, here are some tips that might help you out:
1. Get Started Anyway.
Many times we writers feel like everything has to be perfect before we can get started writing. We need our computer to be fast, our telephone to stop buzzing, the kids to be quiet, the music to be soft and everything to be peaceful. Nope. Not going to happen. At least nine times out of ten something is going to disturb your peace. But do not let it. No matter what just start writing. You may only be able to get a sentence or two down before someone calls your name or you have a meltdown and start screaming at the dog to just shut up, but at least that is two sentences more than you had before, right? If you can just get into the writing groove a lot of those distractions will melt away into the background and you will not even notice it anymore.
It is all about getting started though. Even if you do not know what you write you should still get your fingers on the keyboard or your pen to the paper and just start. It can be nonsense or a rant about how loud and obnoxious other people are, but once your brain falls into writing mode it will start to come out easier and you will magically fall into that great zone where words just seem to flow. Well, at least some of the time you will. Hopefully.
2. Make A List
You know what they say about Santa making a list and checking it twice? Well, the same idea applies for writers. If you make a list of what you want to say then you are less likely to forget a point as you go along, interruptions or not. There is nothing more frustrating than having to walk away mid idea and then coming back with no clue as to where you were going. An outline, a few notes, or a list is a great way to keep your ideas forever without having to hold them all in your already overtaxed short term memory. Do yourself a favour and WRITE THINGS DOWN.
3. Take Notes
Speaking of writing things down, do you know how many ideas come to me about something I want to write when I am sitting in front of a keyboard? The answer is nearly none. I would say that over ninety percent of my writing ideas come when I am out and about. That means I could lose a lot of them by the time I return to my desk if I did not take the simple precaution of keeping a small notebook and pen with me at all times. It is a little thing but it can save you a lot of brain strain later on. Just jot down a few CLEAR notes about your idea. Make it enough that you do not have to guess what you were talking about later. You can even do a few points underneath a main idea if you have that much. Whatever the case, taking notes on the go is a great way to keep good ideas without losing your mind or your temper.
4. Keep Going
Just keep swimming, as a famous fish once said. The thing about distractions is that they never stop. Do not let them rule your life. Do not become obsessive compulsive about having the perfect writing atmosphere. Carry on despite distractions. That may mean tuning out the phone calls or the barking dogs in the neighbor’s yard. That might mean ignoring your friend’s demands to like their Facebook status immediately or your cat winding around your legs and meowing loudly for a mid-mid-afternoon snack. Or second breakfast. Or whatever. The more you get used to writing, even bad writing, through distractions the less they will bother you. Another thing to remember is to not edit as you write. I know, those red and green wavy lines drive me crazy too, but if you take the time to fix every mistake then you get out of the writing vibe and lose track of what you were saying. Finish and then edit. It is so much better.
5. Block It Out
There is another option besides just ignoring distractions. If you can, block them out. Shut the door. Turn off the television. Plug in your headphones and crank up the music. Just a word or advice there, though. If you listen to music with lyrics you are creating another distraction for yourself. Instead, try instrumental music or nature sounds. That way the words won’t get mixed up in your words and end up looking like a mishmash of junk.
6. Turn It Off
A phone does not have to be on twenty four seven. Nor does Facebook have to be up at all times. It is okay to cut yourself off from civilization during your writing time. If people will worry about you then send them a quick text first. That way it will be clear that writing time is writing time, not interruptions allowed.
7. Set Aside Time
Speaking of writing time, you need to set aside time every day just to write. Do not do anything else with this time. No surfing the net, no games, no snaking. Just sit and write. If you get into this habit you will find that you are much more productive. I can get more done in one hour of writing time then I can four hours of ‘get things done’ time. It always ends up that writing is last on my list and I have to skip it. Instead make it a priority and a necessity, like bathing or eating.
8. Be Organized
If you have a writing time then do not take it up getting your thoughts in order. Be organized and keep things in the right place. This will help you to use your time better and it only takes a few minutes if you work on it every day. Keep your computer files in the right place, save to the same place and name things correctly. If it is worth doing it is worth doing right, so pay attention even when you are crunched for time. It will save you tons of time in the long run.
9. Have An Area
Speaking of keeping organized you should have a designated writing area. It might be a desk in your bedroom or one in the corner, but it should be yours. Let no one else mess with it. And try not to place yourself in the flow of the home or office. The kitchen and living room are not great places to look for peace and quiet, nor is the area next to the coffee pot. Get out of the way and somewhere that you can shut a door. That way you have your space and everyone else has there’s and never the twain shall meet.
10. Take A Break
Last but not least, feel free to take a break. Not a long one and not staring at the computer screen. Stand. Stretch. Yawn. Move around. Do a few sit ups or push-ups. Get your blood pumping again. Sometimes we get so focused on what we are doing that we need a brain break. Take it and then get back to work refreshed.
These are just a few of the ways that you can continue to be a productive writer despite distractions. Remember to stay on top of things, make time to write and above all just DO IT!
Jason Miner plays a vital role for www.blogcarnival.com. He is an expert in writing topics of different categories. He is helping the carnival team to grow & working on making this an even better place for bloggers.
- Distractions: What’s taking you away from your writing and when is a distraction a good thing? (shereese.wordpress.com)
- “I Don’t Want To Write Today!” How to Dump the Writing Blues (freelancewriter1020.wordpress.com)
- Monday Challenge: Distractions (bareknucklewriter.com)
- Writing Distractions, Writing Subtractions … and (hopefully!) Blog Reader Participation (occupiedandpreoccupied.wordpress.com)
- The Focus It Takes to Write (twowritingteachers.wordpress.com)