Writer's Survival Guide 16: Fighting Distractions
Distractions? What? I would never be distracted while writing. Never.
I wouldn't sit down and click on Internet Explorer, getting sucked into a time warp of Facebook updates and Twitter check-ins. Nope. Not me.
I couldn't imagine blocking off two hours to write, and instead of focusing on my manuscript, hopping up to pay a bill, grabbing yet another cup of coffee, staring out the window, tossing a load of laundry in, and scanning the fridge for the perfect snack. Uh-uh.
Let's face it--no matter how much we love writing--it's a daunting task. Even when we adore our work-in-progress, we still worry the magic will disappear, that we'll hit a major problem midway through, or that we're deluding ourselves and the book really isn't that great. It's natural to allow distractions to keep us from working. I think it's a protective mechanism.
If we want to finish a book, make a deadline, and continue our writing journey, we must fight these distractions!
How? Use as many tricks as necessary.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour. For some reason, anything under 60 minutes doesn't freak me out the way 4 hours does!
- Reward yourself for small successes. You revised for 2 hours? Enjoy your favorite beverage. Wrote another chapter? Read for an hour. Figured out the plot problem you've been stewing over all week? Indulge in a treat. For me, it's chocolate!
- Just say no. Fight temptation! If you routinely lose valuable writing time to social media, make the Internet off limits until a certain time of day. If phone calls interrupt your writing time, use call waiting or have your answering machine pick up.
- Schedule the rest of your life around your writing. Let's say you have one hour every night you know you can write. Maybe it's 8:30-9:30. Don't let anything come between you and that time. If someone "desperately" needs something, say a poster board for a report the next day, or you realize you need to wash a special pair of pants--wait until 9:30. I know it's late. I know it's not the best time, but we have to keep our writing time sacred. No one will do this for us.
- Use an accountability partner. If you're stressed about the amount of time you're frittering away, and it's an ongoing problem--say, you've struggled for a month--enlist a friend to help keep you accountable. Maybe you e-mail her after each session and let her know how it went? Or you keep a log of how long you wrote, and how many times you took breaks, etc...
- Schedule your writing-related activities. Sometimes we get distracted from our writing because we're doing tasks that are truly necessary, yet we aren't sure how to fit them in. For most writers, social media is a vital part of their writerly duties. I block off an hour each weekday morning to check e-mails, my blog, Facebook, Twitter, and my writer loops. If I have a bit of time left over, I read a few blogs. If I have no time left, I move on.
I'll never be able to eliminate all of my distractions, and I don't want to. Perfection ranks low on my list of aspirations! I just aim to do my best with each day. That's all any of us can do!
How do you fight distractions?
Have a wonderful day!