A few weeks ago I attended the Imaginarium Convention 2021. I sat on four virtual panels but unfortunately the very first one called Taming the Squirrel never made it to the audiences’ computer screens. Why? Technological difficulties and some first-day issues. However, the conversation between myself, Valerie Estelle Frankel, and C.L. Polk was so great that I wanted to share some insights.
So how do you write without distractions? Well, first you gotta figure out what your distractions are. Shocking right? I know. So…what distracts you when you’re trying to write… YouTube? Laundry? Kids? Pets? The ever-mounting ToDo List sitting beside your computer? Whatever it is, nail it down.
Use those distractions as motivators instead. You want to watch that funny YouTube video? Write 200 words first. Got a pile of laundry? Write that chapter. Wanna play with your kids? Write a sentence. (Okay, so those with kids, I get that sometimes you can’t just ignore them. Obviously. But you get the idea.)
Another way to reduce distractions is to carve out specific times to actually write. Morning? Afternoon? Evening? Midnight? Whenever it is, set aside that time and…really set it aside. You know what I mean. Shut the door, sit your butt down on the chair, and write. The more often you dedicate time to writing, the easier it is to keep doing it. And it doesn’t have to be hours set aside either, 30 minutes works great!
Turn off the distractions (if you can). Shut off the internet. Close down the social media sites. Stop researching that flyaway thought about bioluminescent fungi. The less distractions you have open on your actual computer screen, the easier it is to write.
Trick yourself. Yup. That’s right. Trick yourself into writing. Tell yourself you’ll only write for 15 minutes. You can stop reading for 15 minutes. You can push that funny movie off for 15 minutes. Hell, even the laundry can wait 15 minutes. You can ignore almost anything for 15 minutes. Once you write for 15 minutes, go back to doing something else.
Dive into that research hole. Got something tugging on your mind? Research is a part of writing so if there’s something that you’re really, really wondering…go ahead and research it. Do a deep dive into the subject so it’ll get out of your head. You might use some of that research in your writing or you might only use a small snippet, but at least you don’t need to wonder about it anymore.
Create a writing routine. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but it does help to wind down and get into the writing mood. Grab a cup of tea, sit on your favorite couch, or put on some music.
Allow yourself to take a break. Writing is a job and sometimes you just gotta go to work. But, just like any job, sometimes you have to take a break, too. Taking some time off from writing isn’t a bad thing. Taking a day or two, or a week or two, or a month or a year or however long you need, doesn’t make you any less of a writer. So take some time off. Read a good book. Play some Minecraft. Hang out with your friends and family. Refill your creative well.
And that’s it! We chatted about some other things during the panel – where the hell the broadcast button was, for example, and laughing about how it was very meta that we were distracted trying to fix the IT issues during the “writing without distractions” panel. The thing is, you’re always going to be distracted. There are so many things going on every single day that it’s hard not to be. Sometimes the distractions win… sometimes you have to go down that research hole or play with your kids or take a damn break. And that’s okay, too. We’re human.
But if you struggle with distractions and need some tips, hopefully the suggestions in this post help! Do you have any tips about writing without distractions? Leave them in the comments.
Have a lovely Sunday!