A writer has to get rid of all sorts of distraction to be able to write clearly an unrestrained.
Photo Credit: Takeshi KOUNO
A distraction is everything that draws our attention from our writing to other things. It can have various forms and especially for aspiring writers distraction is a common problem.
What can distract as are simply noises outside like kids playing or repairs on building or the streets. It can be messages on Facebook the phone ringing or friends and family. Other forms of distraction are any sort of things that can occupy our mind or that can come up when we decide to write. A common example is doing the chores or laundry for example.
A last sort of distraction are distractions that from or are caused by the writer himself. These distractions are often unconscious.
As mentioned above, these are distractions that come from the writer himself. They are not forced by other people, things around him or outside influences but the cause is often the writer himself.
They are often not done consciously and can include creating problems for ourselves or putting us into a situation where distractions are more prone to happen. We might push our writing time of till it overlaps with the time when friends come over. We might forget to turn our phone off and suddenly get a call that we just have to answer instead of writing.
All sorts of doubts or other concerned fall into this category itself. It is often harder to get rid of unconscious distractions than others. It is important here that you find the root problem that causes the distraction. If you are constantly worried about your story turning out badly, then it might be that you are simply working with the wrong idea. If it is commissioned work, it might not be the story itself you are worried about but the reception and your payment.
Ask yourself what is wrong when you often suffer from unconscious distractions and try to identify the root problem.
Giving into distraction
The biggest problem with distractions is that we answer to them. When we get a text on our phone, it is the normal thing to read it and to answer it instead of simply ignoring it. It is the same when we sit on the computer. We want to start writing but we quickly have to check social media, we remember that we have to check our Emails and after that we listen to a few songs on YouTube to get into the right mood to start writing.
This sort of giving into the distractions all around us is normal for most people. It is hard to not get distracted, especially in our time and age, with the internet, mobile phones and all sorts of other gadgets.
What we have to learn again is to say now. We have to realize that the biggest problem is our attitude and not the distraction itself. It is this attitude that you have to fix. We have to learn to ignore these things when we start writing.
What we do instead is that we make excuses. We can’t turn our phone off, because we might get an important text or call. Checking social media and seeing what your friends are up to is also important and you can’t just leave all those messages unanswered, right?
The same is true for almost all other sorts of distractions. The reality is that you are the biggest problem here.
You first of all have to get more serious about writing. If you let yourself get distracted easily, it often means a lack of focus, discipline and mindset.
A lack of focus often comes form not being sure about your own priorities. You have to ask yourself how important writing and being a writer truly is for yourself. Is it really the case that social media or your phone are more important? So start by making your priorities clear to yourself.
It is also a general rule that the harder and more challenging things are, the harder it is to stick to it. It is these things that bring a true change or that move you out of your comfort zone. When you first start out writing it fits into both of these categories. What that means is that you have to put more effort into it to not get distracted. You simply have to get used to it.
There are some people who tell themselves that the reason they get distracted so easily is that they are not in the right mood to write, should wait for inspiration or simply that writing is not for them.
This is simply another excuse to not write and just shows that you aren’t taking writing serious enough.
Remedies against Distraction
Take a moment:
The first thing you can do when you notice you are getting distracted and you start to focus on other things is to take a moment to stop. Take a deep beath and try to calm down and empty your mind. Then slowly get immersed in your story again. Sit there, breath slow and steadily and imagine what happened last in your story and how it has to continue.
Take care of your obligations:
This means that you have to take care of everything that is important before you start writing to not get distracted. If you have to take care of paperwork, make an important phone call or answer your emails, do it before you start writing. The same is true for shopping groceries, doing the chores or anyhting else that could distract you from your writing.
Talk to others:
When it comes to friends and family, tell them that your writing time is important for you and that they should not disturb you. If you have kids, either wait till they are in bed or write in the morning. You should also plan your writing time accordingly so it doesn’t coincide with family meals for example.
Internet and technology:
The easiest way is to simply disconnect yourself from the internet and turn of your mobile phone. Many people are afraid they miss out on important calls or messages and should be available at all times, but what are the chances that something really important comes up in that one or two hours you are writing?
Other than that, you can of course inform people beforehand that you are busy and change your online status accordingly if you are going to stay online.
Writing at other places:
If you have problems writing at home or notice yourself getting distracted easily, it might not be a bad idea to write at a different place. You can go to a local library, stay longer at the office or even write at cafés. At times even writing in a different room or area in your house or apartment can help.
Listening to music can help block out distractions and concentrate better on your writing. If you often have trouble you could try to put on some ambient music, jazz or classical music. These types of music have a nice, calming effect for many people. Another great things are thematic music pieces that can help to get you into the right mood for your story. A last thing I want to mention is the soothing effect of so called noise machines. You can find many of them online. My favorite myNoise.net.
In the end, you have to remember that often the major cause of distraction is that you are giving into it. The first and most important way to handle distractions is to remember this and of course to make it an actual effort to ignore any and all distractions.