If you’re anything like me, then your writing time is limited and precious. And yet, you still face distractions that make focusing on writing difficult. The pile of laundry that needs to be folded. Emails from work. Phone calls to return. The list goes on an on.
There’s hope, though! You can fight back by making simple simple shifts in your writing practice to reduce your distractions and improve your focus. Read on for my favorite distraction-killing practices:
1. Make it a date
Start by recognizing the importance and value of your writing time. Whether you have fifteen minutes or four hours, it’s your time to write, and you should give it your full attention. Add your writing time to your calendar or planner, just as you would a doctor’s appointment or social date. Then be sure to show up.
2. Silence distractions
Distractions can take many forms – from people and pets to social media and email. Before you settle in to write, take a moment to make your writing space distraction-free.
- If you work from home, tell your family when you’re writing. Put up a sign on your door reminding them to think twice before interrupting.
- Silence your phone. If that’s not an option, limit yourself to checking it on the hour, or in increments that work for you.
- At the café, use ear buds or headphones even if you’re not playing music. It’s a great way to communicate that you aren’t up for a conversation.
- Close your web browser. If that’s still too much temptation, try using a program like MacFreedom or Write or Die to block digital distractions.
- Tidy your desk or workspace and keep it clear of anything that might distract you.
3. Find friends
If you have someone to check in with, it can help you stay motivated to write. Here are a few ideas:
- Ask a friend to meet you at the library or coffee house for a writing date. Even easier, set a time to “meet” on Twitter!
- Check The Sprint Shack or the YA Buccaneers Twitter accounts for word sprints! Word sprints are great ways to meet new writer friends, plus they can do wonders for giving you an extra boost of motivation.
- Search the #amwriting or #amrevising hashtags to see who’s writing, then ask a fellow writer if they’d like company.
4. Music matters
Create a playlist of music to inspire you, and use the music to help you stay focused. Use a service like Spotify or Pandora to create playlists to suite your projects.
5. Track your progress
Keeping track of your progress – whether it’s how often you write, your word count, or the number of scenes you’ve revised – can help you stay motivated and on-task. Over at the YA Buccaneers, we have a few favorite goal-keeping methods, from stickers on a calendar to word count trackers like MyWriteClub. Learn more about how we track goals here.
What’s your distraction-killing advice? I’d love to hear about what works for you in the comments. You never know – it might be just what another writer needs to hear!