Writing Tips: Cutting back on distractions

I use the Internet extensively when I write, but too often I find myself distracted by email, movies, and that accursed StumbleUpon toolbar that can amuse me for hours on end.  At times, you’ll need to simply shove everything to the side and focus just on writing.

Use a list module (or widget) to keep on your start page as a reminder to what you need to get done on a daily basis. You can also use a number of programs that will set timers, reminders, or alerts directly on the desktop of your computer to be a constant reminder.  Another option is to type or write your goals and set them near the place you write.

Set a timer. Again I have a timer set in my start page that provides a pleasant alarm to alert me to get back to work.

Shut the door to the room you’re in. I find I need to do this in order to keep my cat and dog away, otherwise I have critters climbing my chair, sitting on my desk, or getting rolled over with my chair. Doors also keep kids, spouses, and everyone else out as well. If no door, use a sign to bar entrance, letting everyone know this is your writing time.

Wear headphones, even if you don’t listen to anything. Not only does this mark to others that you are ‘working’, it becomes a wearable reminder that you are in writing mode.

Remove all program icons, links, etc that might distract you. I changed my browser’s toolbar to all things writing. Not only does this remind me to write first thing as I fire up my computer, but this also keeps all my favorite sites there at my fingertips. Thessaurus, Dictionary, Wikipedia, and my ‘Write-or-Die” sites stay within easy reach. Other toolbars (mostly the StumbleUpon toolbar) remain shut off until I’m finished.  I also switch on the RescueTime program which keeps track of sites and programs I use during my writing time. This allows me to gauge where I’m wasting time, and adds pressure to write instead of goofing off. (All links lead to free sites/services, by the way).

Choose your best time to write. For myself, as I’ve often mentioned, my best time is in the evening hours when the phone, doorbell, and family are quiet. For some writers, they need to set aside a schedule of writing time. This might require babysitters, down time, or writing in breaks throughout the day. Sometimes this takes a while to find the best times to write.

The most important tip I found is to stop leaning on excuses and just write.


5 Replies to “Writing Tips: Cutting back on distractions”

  1. I found your comments about trying to write fascinating, because it reflects so perfectly the culture that young people live in of constantly distracting widgets, cookies, popups and IMs. As an older person, I do not have these distractions, because I’m not so hooked into the web. When I want to write, I take a pad of paper, a pen (remember that thing?) sit in a corner and actually HAND-WRITE to get my thoughts moving!
    Thanks for helping me to understand the wired world a little better!
    Good writing luck, Best, Cynthia


  2. I used to write all the time with pencil and paper, but found my handwriting gets so illegible. You’d need the Rosetta Stone to decipher what I wrote.
    Typing allows me to get everything out and readable. 😉
    Thanks for the comment.


  3. Definitely do my best writing when I’m home alone. I also use yReader to have my work “read to me”. Since my book is done from a male point of view, it helps this female get a different perspective of her work.


  4. a PEN, Cynthia? what is this foreign object of which you speak? 😉

    great post, great advice. I definitely have a problem with, er, I like to call it “multi-tasking.”


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