Have you ever been diverted while you’re writing?
I haven’t met a single writer who can be honest in answering that question as “no”.
You would have faced many distractions or forgot during a web search, Twitter, Facebook, reading news headlines, answering emails, ordering books from any online platform like Amazon, surfing some web comics.
But the good news for you is there are so many ways that you can use to make yourself focused while you are writing.
I have made three categories according to my suggestions so that you can easily find which type of problem you are facing that is holding you back (or which one is the simplest way that can be adopted now). These include:
- Make a good environment that is comfortable for you
- What should you do before writing
- What should you do when you’re writing
A bonus tip is also included which is focused on what you should do after writing, it could help you to focus steadily with time.
Make A Good Environment That Is Comfortable For You
#1: Stay Away From Your Home
Try to write in a coffee shop or at a library etc., if you usually write at home. This change in the scene makes you more creative and removes many potential distractions as well.
Mostly I write more effectively and more attentively when I go away to a hotel in the morning or evening. It makes me comfortable, free of kids, T.V., laundry, dishes and the Wi-Fi can’t work on my poor laptop. I can write for hours in such comfort.
Only one hour is enough to bring you back on a past creative track where you were sometimes if you are not able to go away for a longer period of time.
#2: Wipe Out The Distracting Noise
I didn’t pay attention to anything (including my husband) when I get into my writing zone. But if you have a lot of disturbing noise around you, it becomes difficult to get into this zone.
Normally, the noise in the house is of kids either fighting, playing, or singing, etc. Maybe it sounds very familiar to you or the sound you want to block or remove is either of construction work happening nearby or your roommate is watching another repeat of Friends again. Anyway, which type of noise is it, you just need a pair of headphones (I’ll prefer earphones that act as an earplug) they will help you in distracting all those noises.
It completely depends upon you that what do you want to listen, it could be a soundtrack of a movie, you can choose a specific artist, album or a song that fits best according to your mood, and some writers listen to the sound from a site like Nosili.com to focus on their work.
#3: Use A Desk Or Table To Sit On
Try to sit on a table or desk, even if it seems tiring to clear some space or do some rearrangement in the room. Although you might mostly like to write by sitting on a sofa or by lying in the bed, this will help you a lot to focus on your work.
The seat on a table or desk makes you feel more like a workspace and it’s also good for your posture, rather than bending with the laptop or lying with holding up your knees in the bed. (If you have taken the decision to not switch to the table and like to stick to bed or sofa, then you might have to find a bed laptop tray that will make your writing easier).
What Should You Do Before Writing
Plan making is always required, whenever you are about to write. It could either be an outline of your whole book or some incomprehensible words in your sticky notes. Whatever your plan is, it plays an important role in making you more focused and on track.
Your attention would easily be lost if you start writing without a plan. You are not aware of your destination and when you start coming to the end of a growing chain of thoughts, you will find something distracting you from your natural thought and you don’t have anything to do with it.
#5: Setting Goals For Your Writing
What achievements do you expect from your writing session? For writing a simple task like a blog post you can work easily with your plans but if the project for which you are working is a longer one, then you must have to build some goals.
For example, you have to write a novel, you must have a goal like first “write 1000 words of chapter 6” or “write a scene with John challenging Gilbert”.
If setting goals becomes frightening or unattractive for you and you are not feeling to be helped with it, then it’s better to set different types of goals like a “minimum” and a “maximum” goal. The minimum goal could be writing only “200 words” and the maximum goal would include writing “1000 words”. And if you’ve completed even a minimum goal it would be encouraging for you.
#6: Decide Your Focusing Limit
It’s not always necessary to write with 100% attention throughout your writing session. You can decide to take a break of 5 minutes after giving a complete focus of 25 minutes. (Such specified intervals could be helpful for you and are a part of Pomodoro technique as well). You can set alarms that will keep you on track.
During your specified time interval you have to be focused only on writing, do not waste your time on Facebook or checking emails.
In the beginning, it may feel hard to be focused in this way but you will get used to it and it’ll become natural.
If you are facing some deep-rooted habits that are distracting you, it would be better to use an app like Freedom that will aid you in blocking certain websites or even the internet for a specific period of time.
What Should You Do When You’re Writing
#7: Make A “Distraction” Handbook
You can make a notebook where you can write down a list of your distractions, it’s a simple tool for me that could be helpful for you.
These are some of the things that are required to be remembered (“Order Le Guin book” is on my list because when I was enlisting it, I remembered that the science fiction book group is meeting up within some weeks).
This list can be used for the coming up impulses, not only for “to do” things. The things such as “lookup for the next episode of Originals” or “see what’s next on YouTube” could also become a part of your distraction list, you can explore these distractions after getting free.
#8: Look Up For Things
Just to find a name or link or fact, you are trying to look up how often you are writing the post (a chapter or a scene of a novel).
And how often you stop, pursue or end up and spend the next hour on the internet.
I have a habit of doing this many times but while I am writing, I will try not to look up for things. Rather, I make a note [for myself] in my draft in square brackets, so that I can insert the name, link or fact later when I came back.
Below is a photo of my draft for this post:
#9: Try Not To Edit While Writing
I know this has been told already but as it’s a piece of advice that always comes up with a repeat: “try not to edit while writing.”
It’s okay to backspace occasionally or fix up the typo or delete the complete sentence if it comes out wrong. (Although some “don’t-edit” traditionalists may not agree with me!). If you are writing a paragraph and changed two to three sentences, then wrote another paragraph and cut everything you’ve written and again come to the start, then you are not going farther.
If your mind has changed during writing, just italicized the section you are not sure about. Write a note on what you thought about to change (e.g. “add someone else in the scene”) and if that change has already been made then move further.
In this way, you will not lose your momentum and save time without editing something that you may have decided to change it later.
What You Should Do After Writing
#10: Record How Your Writing Went
Do it, if you have not tried to keep writing a journal before. You can make a document or a notebook where you can write how it went, you could write it in your diary or whatever suits you best.
Whenever you’ve completed writing, take some time to note that what things went well and what didn’t work well. For example, you have started well but become distracted by answering an email to Jenna or it took a lot of time to start but you got into the flow within minutes.
If you make up your journal for a week or two, you will get to know about the patterns and what does best works for you and whatnot.
Being distractible is just not a good habit but all writers can focus.
How would you like to make your next writing session? Pick up one or more ideas from the list and let us know how are you going? in the comment section below.