Don’t lie: you get distracted when you’re writing. It happens to all of us.
In the digital age, distractions seem to be becoming more and more frequent and irritating, what with the lure of fast mobile browsing, and Twitter accounts connected to our phones. Here are three writing distractions that always get on my nerves, and how I attempt to counter them.
Oh, and suggestions are more than welcome. Anything. Please.
Well, come on, it couldn’t really have been anything else now, could it? The internet is easily the most common writing distraction; I don’t need to run a survey to acknowledge that much.
Whether you write on your laptop and find yourself constantly teased by the Chrome icon, or you remember to check up that Wikipedia page you were supposed to visit earlier, the internet is the undoubted king of distractions.
I often find myself logging into my emails, or searching for any old crap on Google, my mind desperately seeking some sort of respite from the writing. As helpful as it can be, the internet is an enemy of productivity. How do we deal with such a devilish temptation?
I’ve found that nothing works better than a good, old-fashioned switching off of devices. Being cut off from the real world for a few hours can be difficult, sure, but you need to engross yourself in that writing world. If you, like me, are easily distracted by the web, then you need to cut all access. See that phone? Turn it off. And your iPad, too. Don’t let anything get in your way.
I’ve tried page blockers, by the way, but it’s so easy to be selective that I think a better alternative is just to turn your computer off. Of course, this is a problem if you write on your computer. In that case, pull the cord out of the back of your router, and wallow in self-pity as ‘This page cannot be found’ haunts your attempts.
This deserves a whole section to itself because it’s a different sort of writing distraction to the internet. The internet, in moderation, can be productive. Social networking is NEVER productive, and you need to cut it out of your life whilst writing if you ever hope to get anywhere.
Some writers tweet whilst writing. This absolutely does not work for me, and I wouldn’t recommend it to you either. The second you open up another potential channel for distraction, one thing will lead for another, and before you know it, you’ll be taking pictures of your feet in the bath. You don’t want to be that person, do you?
Disable notifications. Block the pages. Get somebody to change the password to your accounts temporarily if you feel it’s necessary, goddamnit.
I don’t know about you, but the second I log into Facebook and begin scrolling down the mass of inane statuses and crappy pictures, I get absorbed in some kind of unhappy, cold stasis. This limbo is an instant productivity killer. Instead of thinking about your next chapter, you’ll be questioning whether that bitchy status is aimed at you, or simply posting pictures of your food.
Social media is a godsend for us writers most of the time. When you’re writing, however… just cut all access. Don’t bother giving yourself the opportunity to be distracted.
An uncomfortable setup
This is something rather personal to me, but I’m sure it applies to others too. When I’m browsing the web for pleasure, I’m usually pretty comfortable in my big chair, sprawled across the desk with my feet up, or something.
However, when it comes to writing, I am easily distracted by silly little things, like the proximity of my seat to the computer screen, and the overcrowding of my desk. In other words, stuff that should really get on my nerves all the time, but kindly waits until I’m writing to do so. Sound familiar?
The way I see it, there’s a few options here. Firstly, you could try just ignoring it, but that’s of course easier said than done. These distractions are pretty abstract though, so if you manage to acknowledge that nothing is really getting on your nerves, then you’re on to a winner.
The next option could be to change your writing space. Generally, I like to write at my desk, simply because it’s the best area in my house to do so. I’ve had productive sessions at the dining table, but my desk always manages to lure me back. And why shouldn’t it? That is what it’s for, after all.
Experiment with moving your writing space, and see how it works for you. As far as writing distractions go, this one’s an annoying one, because it’s so damn hard to pin down. Maybe it’s just me, but somehow I doubt it.
For the sake of reference, here are a couple of other pieces on the topic of writing distractions, and staying productive:
- 5 Strategies to Banish Writing Distractions for Good – betterwritinghabits.com
- 7 Writing Distractions I’m Kissing Goodbye – FuelYourWriting.com
Which writing distractions plague you the most? What do you do to control them?
Image courtesy of ilamont.com via Flickr