‘An addiction to distraction is the death of creative production’ – Robin S Sharma
We are all drowning in distractions. From the daily should-dos to social media, the latest Netflix episodes, and general busy-ness. Life is a constant fight for our attention. The problem? Writing needs focus. Writing needs a depth of concentration that doesn’t lend itself to multi-tasking. The good news? Only you decide where your attention goes. So what’s the secret to writing with laser-like focus? Here are some rules to guide you.
Make your environment distraction free
Have a dedicated place to write and make that space as distraction-free as possible. Close the door. Remove any clutter from your desk. Turn off your phone. Put on some soothing music or white noise. Eliminate anything that is going draw your attention from the task at hand. The biggest offender: the internet. As best-seller, Liane Moriarty admits ‘Google is my best friend and my worst enemy. It’s fabulous for research, but then it becomes addictive. I’ll have a character eating an orange, and next thing I’m Googling types of oranges, I’m visiting chat rooms about oranges, I’m learning the history of the orange’. Make life easier for yourself by disconnecting your internet when it’s time to write.
Make it Achievable
It’s difficult to focus on the writing at hand when you feel completely overwhelmed. You don’t write a whole book in one sitting. You write it word by word. Spend time outlining your plot before you begin (as loosely as you like) then break down your writing into bite-sized action steps. Write down your top tasks the night before to keep the momentum going the following day.
Set a Timer
I have already talked about the Pomodoro method and how well it works for me. The basic idea is that you set a timer for 25 minutes and give writing your complete attention. Afterward, take a break. Want to do this in a group setting? Group writing sprints can be another way to focus on the task at hand.
You’re working on multiple writing projects, answering messages on your phone, checking your latest emails and scrolling through Instagram at the same time. Stop right there. You think you are being efficient but multi-tasking means you are constantly switching your focus and giving in to interruptions. Becoming a distraction-free writer means focusing on one thing: writing. Switch off your devices. Close down all those tabs and give your writing the focus it deserves.
Guard Writing Time
If writing is important to you then stop compromising on your writing time. As J.K. Rowling says, ‘be ruthless about protecting writing days’. Learn to say no. Not only to external commitments (meetings, phone calls, and emails) but also to internal should-do tasks that are getting you nowhere. Find out when you are the most productive. Morning, evening, weekends or weekdays, whenever it may be. Guard this time and use it wisely.
Try a Distraction-Free Writing App
Need more help to create a focused writing zone? Try a distraction-free writing application. These programs hide everything on the screen except your writing. It’s the ultimate in minimalism: no blinking icons, beeping reminders, formatting or toolbars. To find out more check out the following articles.