“Starve your distractions, feed your focus.”
If you’re a writer, or have ever written anything in your life, you’ll have more than likely suffered from an intense case of procrastination. It can be the absolute worst. I can be sat working on the most important chapter yet on my novel or typing away on an article for a client at work when- oh there’s a dog!
Exactly. It’s easy to lose track when there are so many things around to distract us. Sometimes, it’s not even a case of taking away the distractions, but a case of teaching ourselves to ignore them. Tricky, very tricky…
So, let’s identify some of the main distractions we face every day when we write. Well, the distractions that I face!
Honestly, social media is terrible sometimes, but can you really imagine a life without it now? It’s more than likely how you’ve become known for the things you love to do. It’s how you’ve made friends with those who share similar hobbies and interests with you. Well, that’s if you’re doing it right. I’ve seen people use social media for complaining about how crap their lives are, begging for attention and being generally vulgar. Yeah, I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen it.
However, with social media sites readily available on our computers, laptops, mobiles and tablets, they’re one hell of a distraction. The best thing to do is to log out completely, move all devices AWAY from you until you’ve got your writing nailed on the head. Otherwise, you’ll be liking last week’s photos of your neighbour’s Dachshund and playing Pac Man with your best mate on Facebook chat. Write, goddamn it!
Your housemate comes into the room for a natter and you’re too polite to tell them to do one. However, you’ve set yourself a task and you were completely in the zone. Now, it’s all been lost and you’re sat there wondering why you even bother. When you plan on having a decent writing session, let other people know about it. They’ll know how important it is to you that you get it done and how much you need the peace and quiet. Even put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door if you have to!
Ahh, the mobile phone. How on Earth did the world cope without this wondrous technology? God, we’d get a hell of a lot more writing done for one. Your phone is quite possibly the worst culprit in the world of distractions. Don’t have your phone next to you while you write if you have no self control. It’ll only make the task of staying focused so much more difficult.
A messy room.
If you’re working in a messy space, how do you expect to have a clear head? I don’t know about you, but if things aren’t neat and tidy, I find it so much harder to concentrate on the task at hand. Cloudy surroundings means a cloudy mind. Always think about getting organised and keeping the mess down. Invest in some plants, maybe some desk organisers, and generally have a clean working space.
Okay, four pretty big distractions for me. They always get in the way at some point and seeing as NaNoWriMo is coming up fast, it makes sense to have a plan in place to get rid of all these distractions, as well as stopping myself from getting tempted by anything other than the task I’m meant to be doing. Writing.
I’m a pretty big procrastinator as it is. I know I need to get stuff done, and even though I may enjoy a particular task, it’s so easy to get distracted.
The funny thing is, that after I wrote that very sentence, I went in search of a different task. I scrolled on Facebook for a while, then saw a piece of rubbish on the floor that needed to go in the bin. A piece of rubbish. How on Earth is putting something in the bin more interesting than writing? The one thing I love to do all day every day. Even little things like that begin to put things into perspective that little bit more.
Feeling a little bit lost on how to banish those distractions? This should help:
- Remember why you write in the first place. It might be because you love immersing yourself in a world of fiction, or you just love setting yourself new challenges. Whatever your reason, you should remember that, always. Why break off from it to do something stupidly less interesting?!
- People are still going to like you when you’re done. Don’t ever think other people’s needs are always above your own. If people know you well enough, they’ll understand that you deserve time to do your own thing without compromising that relationship. If that thing is writing a 60k word novel, then go and do it. The right people will see you when you’re done and will, most of the time, want hear all about your progress.
- Who cares who’s ranting on social media this evening? Log out and forget about it. Trust me, there’s not going to be 6 new baby announcements in the time it takes for you to write a chapter or two. Just leave it out.
- Think about the outcome. When you become distracted, remember that this is no way to get a novel published or a blog post read by the right people! You’ll know in your heart how much you want to succeed. If you’re constantly doing anything but write all the time, you know you can’t be that bothered about it anyway. Wait, you are bothered? STOP PROCRASTINATING!
I know, I know. All this is easier said than done. Just make sure that you’re making a conscious effort to avoid and remove all distractions from your work space, especially when you have a big important project on the go. How do you get rid of distractions? Can you just forget about them or do you have to remove them from the scene completely?