Seven Steps to Avoid Writing Distractions
Are you sitting in front of your computer or typewriter, wondering why the words won’t flow? Don’t allow writing distractions to stop you from completing you book.
If you want to finish your project within a year, you must commit to spending a few hundred hours. That can take forever if you’re piecing together tiny increments of time, spread out over months. If you allow writing distractions to creep in, you’ll find that you will just spend your time reviewing, rather than make forward progress.
To avoid writing distractions, here are a few tips that might help:
Step 1: Turn off your Wi-Fi
Unplugging from the internet will stop you from checking your email, social media feed, or what’s up with your favorite sports team every two minutes. Unless you need the internet to do research, there’s no reason to have your Wi-Fi on. It’s the number one cause of writing distractions for many. You aren’t alone.
Now, if you need the internet for your word processing program, you can use an app like Freedom, which allows you to block various websites. Sometimes we all need a little help to avoid the temptation of distractions from writing.
Step 2: Turn off your cell phone
When writing, you must give yourself a chunk of time when you won’t be disturbed. When I hear that familiar ping from my cell phone, politely letting me know I have a new text message, it is hard to ignore.
A ghostwriting client needs me…
A friend has something important to say…
My brother has a cute meme to share…
Remember back to the time before cell phones? We all somehow got along without a barrage of continual communication. Your friends can wait an hour or two while you write.
My advice is to completely turn your cell phone off while you write. That way you’ll avoid many different forms of writing distractions.
If you don’t, the temptation to check texts and voice messages might be too great. These interruptions make it difficult to complete a writing task. Even putting the phone on vibrate will interrupt your creative flow.
Step 3: Use the tools that are best for you
You are an artist. There’s no doubt about that. Please don’t be pressured to conform to another writer’s methods. Write in a way that’s most comfortable and productive for you.
I work best on my laptop using Word. I’ve known writers who prefer working on yellow legal pads, writing long hand. Some like the old fashion feel of a typewriter’s keyboard.
There is no “right way” to write.
The only wrong way is not to write. Whatever works to produce words on a page is correct.
Step 4: Find a quiet writing spot
It’s important that you discover a good, quiet, comfortable place to write. This might be in your car, in a coffee shop, a library, or a nook in your home. Or perhaps you prefer to sit propped up on your bed with lots of pillows for support.
Find a spot where the distractions are limited. For instance, setting up in the middle of a busy kitchen probably won’t work well. Likewise, if you walk into a bar where everyone shouts your name upon entry, that might not be the most distraction-free environment for your work.
If you aren’t sure which spot is best, try different ones. Which locations produce the most number of quality words per hour?
Step 5: Eat well, sleep well, take care of yourself
It’s hard to write well when you’re tired or hungry. Exhaustion and an empty stomach can cause powerful writing distractions. Get a good amount of sleep and eat regular nourishing meals. Keep in mind that while junk food will stop the grumbling in your tummy, it is liable to make you tired, which will result is poor writing. Side note: If you’re fasting, your characters are likely to discuss food more than they should.
Bottom line, writing is hard work. Take care of yourself. Get a good seven or eight hours of sleep each night.
It’s worth noting that you do burn calories when you write. Yes, mental activities consumes energy, about fifty calories per hour.
You might also do some aerobic exercise before writing, as it gets the blood pumping.
You know what your body and mind needs! Take good care of yourself and you’ll write a better book.
Step 6: Prepare ahead of time
I find that I’m less distracted when I’m well prepared. When the research is completed and I know where I’m going, the words usually flow seamlessly.
One trick that I’ve learned over the years is to end a writing session mid-scene, especially if I leave off at an exciting cliffhanger. This takes some discipline, as you will probably want to push through and just finish it, but leaving it to the next day will give you something to look forward to. That way, you’ll know exactly what to write, and can embark on the next day’s target with ease.
If you get carried away and complete the passage, you can still set yourself up for the next day. Put your notes in order and write the first few lines before you end off.
Step 7: Don’t edit as you write
After coaching various writers on the craft, I’ve noticed that editing too early is actually a writing distraction. Writers start doubting their ability to write and often stop in the middle of their book. They never pick it back up again.
While it is fine to review the previous day’s work, don’t fall into the trap of editing before you finish your first draft. I know that can be hard, but remember, you really need to just get words down on paper. As long as you have a good, detailed outline, you’re fine to continue to the completion of that initial draft.
Editing midway can cause many problems and is usually a complete waste of time. Understand that when you finish your first draft, you’ll be in a different place. You’ll know a lot more about the story, the characters and the plot elements, so that you can do a proper edit.
Most writers will do at least some rewrites during the editing phase, so if you start reworking pieces before you complete the first draft, you’re just doubling your work. Just plow forward and plan to correct errors later.
Every writer is different and every writer has his or her own process. What works for you might not work for me, and that’s fine. Find the successful actions that help you be as productive as you can be. The best measure of success is progress.
How many words did you write this week?
If you need a little help from a ghostwriter, please feel free to email me. We can work together to create your book!
If you could benefit from my consulting services, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I can assist you on an hourly basis and troubleshoot any problems you might be having.
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