Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Writing Distractions

OK, you're all ready to go.  You've got your chair set to exactly the right height, a cold beverage by your side, and ideas are flowing through your brain in such a way that Stephen King himself would be proud.  What's to stop you from writing that masterpiece now?

That's right, the dreaded distraction, and they're everywhere.  I want to sit down and write the next 2000 words, but I first need to check my Facebook page.  I'm ready to nug through that plot point I've been dying to make, but look - someone has sent me a bunch of photos of cats that look like Hitler.

And so on, and so on, and so on...

Every writer that has ever had success has found some way to cut out distractions.  Some play loud music for white noise, forcing them to shut it out of their heads so they can focus on the task at hand.  Others lock themselves in a white room and refuse to leave until they've written 2500 words.  I've known people who've unplugged their modem so they aren't tempted to bring up the Internet for a few minutes.  The list of techniques is endless.

Regardless of what you do, you have to find a way to force distractions out of your head so you can focus on writing the damn story.  For me, I've always written best when I have no access to TV or the Internet.  However, that's only happened either when I'm in between homes or I'm out of the country(which is more often than you might think).  I get bored easily sitting around doing nothing, but a mildly entertaining TV show has the potential to drag me into hours of, "Well, maybe just this last show."  The web has the same potential with, "Well, maybe just this last website."

I'm good at getting a lot done when I break the inertia and get into it, so my key when I'm home is to force myself to sit down and begin.  Writing is both fun and addictive once it gets going, so if I can just get into a rhythm, I'm fine.  Therefore, I'll have to sit down and just start writing, trying my best not to think of what's just a mouse click away.

But sometimes, it can be so darned hard...


  1. For me, it's email and the Internet that distracts me. I leave my email minimized almost all day, so it's too easy to see the envelope symbol that tells me I've got a new email message and wanting to check it when I'm writing. And I often have to go through all my regular websites before I write or else I'm too tempted to check the Internet and/or can't focus on my writing.

    What helps me is closing out my email program and closing the Internet browser. It immediately gives me the message that I need to focus on my writing.

    I usually write 1-2 times a day, 800-1600 words, for 1 1/2 - 3 hours. It takes me an hour to write 500 words, which seems like a slow pace. But I write full-time, so I have the ability to spend extra time writing.

    1. Christine,

      I'm very impressed with your writing discipline. I can do 1500 words an hour when I do write, but forcing myself to do so is tough sometimes(there's always SO MUCH to do), so I go days without writing anything at all. Plus, the 1500 words/hour is only when I'm on a roll and know exactly where I want to go. It's usually more like 750-800 words an hour when I'm fighting over the right wording.

      I envy you since you write for a living. I'll get there one day...