Distraction is a demon that plagues all writers. Though we fight against it, often we fall prey to the many distractions of the virtual world—Twitter, Facebook, and that inescapable black hole, Pinterest.
One way to increase our focus while writing is to word sprint. The Sprint Shack hosts sprints almost every day over on Twitter, and when we’re not wearing our fingers down to nubs against our keyboards, other notable sprinters are there to help you with your digit erosion (might we suggest investing in a pair of gauntlets?).
But what if word sprints aren’t enough (shock, horror!) or you’re not able to take part in a sprint at that time? That’s where these five tools can swoop in and save the day through enhancing your focus while writing.
Prepare to become a productivity ninja with this programme. If the Internet pounces on your writing time like a clowder of attention-seeking cats, then Simpleology will teach you how to defend your day.
Input your targets each morning, get straight on with what you have to do, and finish early so that you can spend the rest of the day heeding the meows of your Internet clowder, guilt-free. Should temptation prove too much, there’s a bodyguard feature that allows you to block the main offenders—Facebook, Twitter and the like.
To get the most out of Simpleology, select the full tutorial. It takes a little while to do, but allows you to get the best out of the programme and learn skills that can make productivity into a lifelong habit.
2. Full-screen mode
There are many things in our environment that can distract us. The programmes along the taskbar may seem innocuous, but they’re a time-bomb of temptation, just waiting to catch the eye and obliterate your focus. You can cut out that temptation altogether by using full screen mode in your word processor.
I recommend Scrivener. Besides its many fantastic features, it has a full screen mode that’s simple, clean and distraction-free, hiding that pesky taskbar—and any other eye-catching icons—from sight. A free alternative is yWriter, which has several features similar to Scrivener, including a full screen mode.
3. Write or Die
If you’re word sprinting alone or with others, sometimes it’s hard to force yourself to write—and only write—for the allotted period, even with the pressure of a time limit. That’s where Write or Die comes in handy.
Set yourself a word count goal and a time limit and write. Should you stop typing into the programme, for whatever reason, during your sprint, there will be Consequences. Alarming sounds, unpleasant pictures (spiders, creepy critters and Grumpy Cat), and, if you’re in kamikaze mode, the sight of your words disappearing will soon put a stop to your sneaky Internet excursions. The desktop version of Write or Die also has a full screen mode, which helps to shut out distractions on the screen.
If the frantic nature of Write or Die shatters your focus rather than sharpens it, a more soothing app may be just the thing you need.
Enter OmmWriter. Like Scrivener, yWriter and Write or Die, this app employs a full screen mode to shut out distractions. Where OmmWriter differs is the atmosphere. Customise your background to hold your attention and set your mood, choose a calming audio track to play while you write, and select the sound of your keystrokes to immerse you in the writing process—all from the same app. Serenity and focus are yours for the taking.
Since we’re on the topic of calm and concentration, there’s one tool that must be mentioned: the music player, focus@will. All the tracks provided by this music service have been created to maximise your focus, reduce distractions and enhance your ability to work.
Being a psychology enthusiast, I particularly like that focus@will uses neuroscientific research to develop its tracks. It doesn’t just claim to help—it has evidence to back it up. Plus, it’s always good to know the science behind the funny things it’s doing to your brain.
What tools do you use to increase your concentration and focus when you’re writing?