By: Amanda Winstead
Distractions, Disruptions, Disturbances, and Where Was I?
“I do not use the Internet, because I know myself too well. Once I got on the Internet I would get so distracted, I’d be basically giving one of my books to the Internet because I wouldn’t be writing. I’d be playing on that machine. Interview by Associated Press ―
Distractions are the bane of a writer. They can throw off your groove, interrupt your creative flow, and generally reduce productivity. Writing takes focus. It takes a deep sense of inner concentration. It requires your full attention as you pour out your heart and soul into one incredible composition after another.
Sorry, what are we talking about again?
Ah, yes. Distractions. One of the most significant challenges that writers have faced over the centuries is how to escape distractions. If you’re a writer who regularly gets distracted while you’re composing, here are a few suggestions for ways to manage the chaos and help you stay focused.
It’s essential to set the stage for success by finding ways to minimize the potential distractions that can disturb your day. Start by ensuring that your primary workspace has everything you need to keep you comfortable working at your desk for long periods.
From there, make sure that you’re organized both physically and digitally. Next, create a flexible schedule that can bend to your writing needs and help you focus. Finally, practice mindfulness as a tool to both help you stay focused and identify where distractions are a particular problem.
1. Equip Your Space So You Stay and Write
At this point, everyone and their mother are aware that you need a dedicated space if you want to write.
But simply claiming that extra room or carving out a corner of your bedroom to work in doesn’t cut it. You need to equip your writing space with the right essentials if it’s going to function correctly.
Along with a computer or pen and paper, you also want to set up:
- A reliable internet connection.
- A comfortable desk and a chair with lumbar support.
- Great lighting that helps you set the mood.
- Good speakers or a headset if you like to listen to music.
- A mug warmer so that your hot beverages stay, well, hot.
What does all of this have to do with distractions? Well, if you operate in a subpar writing space, you’re going to find that the distractions tend to creep up much easier. You’ll need to leave to reheat your drink, get up from an uncomfortable chair, or reset your router.
If you want to avoid distractions, dedicate a workspace and then equip the heck out of it. Also, consider the orientation of everything. For instance, if your writing space is sharing a room with other activities, face your desk away from the rest of the busyness — if you can.
2. Get Organized
When you write, it’s easy to have a stampede of different ideas running through your mind. It’s already enough work to corral those thoughts and find some direction. The last thing you want to do is have other distractions adding to the chaos.
That said, take a look around and consider how organized your writing space is, which includes several different factors:
- Is your writing desk clear of distractions?
- Is your writing space neat and clean?
- What about your computer’s desktop; is it cleared or cluttered?
- Do you have a schedule or task organizer to guide your writing?
Along with these primary considerations, some alerts and notifications have the potential to distract you. Part of a well-organized space includes organizing the digital distractions that can come calling.
For instance, if you’re a freelance writer, it’s easy to get swamped looking for work. The number of sites and the constant need for new gigs can feel overwhelming at times.
Rather than following any and every lead that comes your way, make a list of the best freelance writing sites where you can continually feed that gig hopper. Then, when you’re getting low on work, you can refer to your list and go straight to the best sources.
3. Try Setting Up a Flexible Schedule
Writing is a notoriously uncooperative professional pursuit. For many, the desire to write comes when it comes and goes when it goes. It can be hard to “turn on” your writing abilities at a moment’s notice. And, of course, when you’re in a less-focused mindset, it’s easy for distractions to start to creep into the picture.
One way to counter this tendency is by establishing a flexible schedule. Think of it as the time-based equivalent of manufacturing with interchangeable parts.
Start by identifying each aspect of your day that is important. For instance, if you’re working from home and have a dog, you need to take them for walks. Can you plan your writing schedule to coincide with your children in school? You also need to find time to sleep, eat, and exercise throughout the day.
As you identify the individual pieces of your responsibilities, look for ways to assemble them into a loose schedule (that’s the interchangeable parts bit.) Try to build routines that help you address important things like walking the dog before sitting down and writing. Try your schedule for a week or two, but if you find that your routine doesn’t work anymore, swap out different responsibilities and try them at other times of the day.
You can also use scheduled routines to tend to important things like eating or taking a nap before getting to work, reducing distractions, and maximizing your focus once you start typing.
4. Be More Mindful
Practicing mindfulness is a great way to address distractions in the workplace. On the one hand, the simple act of being more aware can help you stay focused as you try to write.
On the other hand, being mindful can also help you identify areas you weren’t aware of where you were being distracted. Taking meditative breaks throughout your day can help you remain aware of how often things are interrupting your day.
- Are loved ones entering your writing space while you’re actively composing?
- Is the dog barking when you need them to be quiet?
- Are you getting pinged by emails and phone notifications that are nagging at your attention?
Mindfulness can help you identify where the problematic areas are. Once that’s done, you can look for ways to establish boundaries to help you stay focused and give your full attention to your writing.
Attentive Writing Can Get Amazing Results
By proactively working to minimize distractions, you can turn your writing environment into a unique space where you can work unencumbered by the ongoing bustle of everyday life. You create a sanctuary where you can focus all of your creative energy. You establish a haven to think, focus, and above all, write.
Bio: Amanda Winstead
Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts.
If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
Other posts by Amanda Winstead
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