Writing Distractions and How to Overcome Them

There is nothing worse than sitting down to write, having everything ready; your notes, inspiration, tools and energy, to hear a notification go off or the dreaded “Mom” shouted from the next room. Distractions are part of a writer/author’s life. How we handle them and overcome them can make all the difference in having a successful writing session or not.

Today I have compiled some distractions you may or may not deal with as you sit to write your next big story and how to overcome them.  Let’s get started, shall we…

Comparing Yourself to Others

Distraction:

 

 

You remember sitting on the couch, relaxing, reading a novel by your favorite author who has created a stunningly amazing story with great characters, beautifully crafted settings and an amazing plot the night before. Now your mind gets in the way by telling you, “I will never be as great as this author no matter how hard I try.”

Overcome:

 

You, my dear writer/author are an amazing person to have come as far as you have. Whether you are published or just starting, you have already overcome the biggest hurdle in writing: Beginning. You have begun and that in itself is an amazing feat. As long as you keep to your journey nothing can stop you. Find encouragement from others. Check out my Pinterest board for some awesome quotes. (I also post these on all my social media every Sunday to inspire others. 🙂 ) Collect inspiring and encouraging phrases on Pinterest or in a journal to look at as needed or every day before you begin. Join a writing group and communicate with others how they handle this distraction or any others on this list for that matter. I guess the main idea here is: Find encouragement!

 

Feeling Sorry for Yourself

Distraction:

You haven’t reached your goal this week/month/year or your story didn’t turn out exactly like you had planned. Now you are having a pity party.

Overcome:

Know that you are not alone in this. Every writer/author encounters setbacks, but it’s climbing over those mountains and continuing on the journey that sets us apart from the rest of the crowd.

Ex. I almost forgot about this weeks planned post even though I have a reminder in my calendar for it. I have been too preoccupied with a different distraction to realize I may fall behind. My choice was to either work harder against my distraction to get it done or submit a late entry. The later didn’t sit well with me so I worked to complete it.
Ex. My recently published book “Raylynn“, I originally planned for her to be a secretary for a large office, but she decided she didn’t want that and became a nurse instead. I totally believe characters will sometimes control the story, which in this case, she certainly did.

Family and Friends

Distraction:

Boy is this one a daily occurrence with me. With pets and two younger children literally running around the dining room table for fun while laughing can be a major distraction. Don’t get me wrong it’s a wonderful sound since my two, like many other children, don’t always get along. So how do you keep the little monsters busy while you get some much needed writing done? How about your spouse or other relatives and friends needing attention?

Overcome:

Pawn the wee ones off on your significant other! OR…, you could schedule reading time while you write to hone their reading skills, put on their favorite movie with a snack, let them have their hour of electronics to play a game, or take them to the park and find inspiration along the way to keep you writing.

Get your spouse, family and friends on board. Explain how important this is to you and create a family/friends group to encourage and support for everyone’s projects currently in progress. Everyone can use encouragement from time to time. Discuss it with them, make sure activities are planned and understood that during that time you/they are not to be disturbed. You can create a Facebook Group, Google Hangout, etc. to get together and discuss what you are currently working on and where you are in the process. Once people feel included and see just how much you truly care and how far you have come, they will respect you and may just start asking for advice!

Pets

Distraction:

Animals of any kind need attention and caring for. They always seem to need it when you are hard a work writing.

Overcome:

See if a neighbor or close friend can take care of your animal(s) while you work (That’s if they are really close. I don’t expect you to drive across town for a 30 min to an hour of writing time and then go back to get them, unless you choose to.) If you have someone walk your dog, have it correlate with your writing time. If that is not an option, make sure they have all they need before beginning: food, water, toys, a treat maybe. If your family is around see if they can care for the animals while you get some much needed writing done.

Work/Busy Lifestyle

Distraction:

That dreaded 9 to 5, 7 to 3, 3 to 11, 11 to 7 or anything in-between! I have worked them all as well as a mix working some in the morning and coming back in the evening. Not fun and I lost so much time with my children, but that is another story. Let’s stay on track. 😉 How do you get the time to write while balancing a full/part-time job?

I am way to busy to write. There are just to many things to get done, to many things I am involved in!

Overcome:

Look at how you use your day, record your results for a week and see if there are any spaces you can squeeze in some writing time. During your lunch hour (total me!), the bus or train ride from/to home, the few minutes you have in the morning while you are sipping coffee, or a bit of time right before bed. Find those little moments and use them to your advantage.

 Even if you have a busy lifestyle, I bet there are still minutes scattered around that you can use to get some writing in. Again, observe your schedule for a week and see where you can squeeze in some writing time. During work breaks, during kids extra-curricular activities, etc. You can always find a bit of time if you just look.

 

Dating (Online of Off)

Distraction:

You’ve just met this awesome person online or off that you want to get to know better. (I have to say I have never done the online thing and prefer to meet people face to face, but that’s coming from someone who married her high school sweetheart, so you could just ignore that. 🙂 )

Overcome:

If this person respects you in your writing endeavors, they will honor your time to write as well by not interrupting you. If you really feel like this person is special, have them be an accountability partner. Someone who encourages you and keeps you accountable to your goals.

Household Chores/Maintenance

Distraction:

The house is a mess. The laundry needs to get done and the garage needs to to be cleaned out.

Overcome:

The best way to do this is if you have kids, give them some of the chores. Ones you feel they could do without hinderance or harming themselves and plan out the rest on days you have more time. Start picking up before bed so that you won’t have to do it in the morning and have the kids clean up after themselves. (A chore in itself, I know. I’m still working on my own kids with this one.) That goes for your significant other as well. The less you have to worry about the more you can concentrate on what you love, writing… or time with said family.

Too Tired

Distraction:

There are so many things going on, I am just too tired to work on this.

Overcome:

Well, yes, writing can add to your list of items to do, but this is where you get to use your imagination, ideas and inspirations to create something awesome.

 Eat something with high energy (remember to stay healthy, you don’t want to crash), drink plenty of water, sit in your favorite spot and type one word, then another and another. Soon, you will have a paragraph and then a page, then a chapter! And you said you were too tired! This is were sheer determination comes into play. If you have a positive/negative reward system in place, keep that positive reward in your mind as you write. You don’t want to disappoint your fans, or yourself for that matter.

Continuing Education/Internet

Distraction:

This one comes to bite me on a nearly daily basis. I find myself thinking, “I could always know more about this topic or that topic and spend hours researching, reading and taking notes on things I would probably be able to write my own book for now that I have research it so much. Although my brain tells me, “You could always have another copy” or “You may learn something new from this one.”

 Trying to find that last piece of information, surfing social media, or just looking at news. The internet is full of distractions.

  Overcome:

To overcome this, I believe it is best to have a schedule in place. Choose a day or set a time limit for research and only spend that day or time on it. Once that timer goes off, save your spot and move forward. You don’t want to do what I have done for the last few days (without realizing) that I have spent all that time researching and learning without actually putting it to any good use and writing.

There are plenty of apps and programs that will lock access to the net for a time you specify so that it is not a distraction. Some, if not most, will work on computers as well as devices. Again, you could schedule time or use it as a reward. Create a list of rewards and choose one for the session you complete.

Obsessing Over Routine

Distraction:

You have a routine that is precisely planned to the day, hour or even minute and nothing is going to veer you from your course.

Overcome:

Yes, I did just suggest a schedule and with that comes routine, but lets not take that so far as to forget everything else. Stick to it as much as you can. You are not a robot programmed to perform exactly on cue. You must live and enjoy life to be an excellent writer/author. Where do you think all that inspiration comes from? Living! Create a routine, but don’t feel like you have lost everything if you take a day to relax that wasn’t planned or something comes up that was a surprise. Your career will still be here when you return and when you do, you will be there ten fold!

Trying to Find the Quick Fixes

Distraction:

Trying to find a faster or easier way of doing things. Faster writing, easier planning, quicker outcome but still quality.

Overcome:

The phrase, “Slow and steady wins the race” comes to mind here. Although, there may be some ways to make things seem quicker or easier, you may find that your story is lacking the quality it once had because of it. Or what you thought was quicker or easier for one person is definitely not for you. Find what works for you and stick with it. This may take time, but you will benefit in the long run. Once you have structure and systems in place things will naturally flow faster and become easier.

Researching Yourself/News/Internet

Distraction:

I have not personally had this distraction, but I guess it could be if you wanted to look up every last bit of information about yourself that is floating around on the net. (Seriously, I didn’t mean to freak you out about that if you haven’t thought about it before.)

 Now, I don’t understand how this could be possible because I avoid news like the plague. Too much sadness and politics for me so I just don’t watch it or look at it. Of course I can’t avoid it all, but it is just not something I am interested in. I could see how it could interest others with different tastes.

Overcome:

Stop looking! No, but seriously. If you are that concerned I can only guess that you have something that you want to hide. If it is necessary, lock your internet while you write and you can resume your self stalking after.

 If you must obsess over the latest news, use it to your advantage. Creatively use it within your story line. Someone seeing that article in the news or reading in the paper. Maybe it relates to your protagonists career and it could put a damper on their latest project. Use it as research or limit the time you take to read and discuss it.

 

Internet Celebrities (Animal or Human)

Distraction:

That cute angry cat is at it again. You must see the latest picture, meme, item of the animal sensation or the latest gossip on your favorite celebrity.

Overcome:

I don’t have any problem with this, but I know people who follow them religiously. My thoughts would be to schedule your viewing session in before you write. (You never know where inspiration could hit, you may get an idea from viewing them. Just don’t use that as an excuse. That is not research unless you actually use the information!) Otherwise, use that as a reward for completing your writing goals. What better reward than something you truly love to follow.

Waiting for Inspiration/Not Knowing What to Write

Distraction:

You are at a certain point in your story and you are running flat. Your brain just cannot think of anything else interesting to say.

Ahh! I have no idea what to write! My mind is completely blank! HELP!

Overcome:

Keep a list of prompts either on paper, computer, or Pinterest that you could possibly use for the story you are currently writing. I keep a board specifically for that and as I gather notes, ideas, and other useful information I will list the prompts that may come in handy to use later as needed. You never know when you could use a good plot twist, creative dialogue, or picture to inspire the words to flow!

 Again, this is where real research comes in handy. Save those that you can use for inspiration somewhere. Any app or program you are comfortable using and refer to them when you need inspiration. During one of your research binges, look up ideas and prompts that might be helpful.

 

Social Media

Distraction:

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest: There are so many social media outlets these days and they can all be a distraction to your writing.

Overcome:

One way to combat this is to turn off all notifications on all devices. I did this a few months back and I could not be happier with my results. I spend a little bit of time in the evenings checking the ones I’m most interested in. You could also schedule a time period to look at them and then pry yourself away when your time limit is up. You could also, during a quick scan, save the articles you want to look at and come back to them when you have more time. Facebook does this very well.

Netflix

Distraction:

They finally added the new season of my favorite show! There are so many shows to choose from! This show is my research for my next book!

Overcome:

Ok, I can see how this would be a distraction. I have binge watched plenty of shows on Netflix. If you are seriously using this as a research tool, then you better have paper and pen or tablet/iPad to be recording your notes for your next project. Otherwise, you need to do something to regulate your viewing habits. This may seem extreme, but if it is possible, you could set parental controls and have your spouse enter a password you won’t know. You would have to go through them to use the app. I know I have said this about many of these, but the more rewards you can choose from the better, right? Use it as a reward for writing for a certain period or number of words.

Schedule a time to use it and get off as soon as that time is up and if all else fails, uninstall it! You could be hindering your writing career if you cannot get your habit under control.

Checking Sales (Business)

Distraction:

You finally got that first, second, third book published and you are dying to see how sales are. Have they skyrocketed? Have they plummeted? Has it moved at all?

Overcome:

First, concentrate on providing awesome stories and content to your readers. Your sales will follow (with well planned and executed marketing). That one book is going to lead the way to your fans wanting more, so do them a favor and begin your next story for them to enjoy.

Second, don’t set any notifications (email, app, etc) to notify you of a sale. You don’t need the pressure to look as you continue your writing journey.

Last, schedule or use as a reward at the end of you writing session to see how well your sales are doing. If your sales are going up, that is a great motivator and you are well on your way to creating more fantastic stories to go along with the one(s) you currently have published.

Plotting Future Novel

Distraction:

You start writing and another idea for a book/article comes to mind. You open another document and set to work plotting that one, then another idea comes and you open yet another document.

Overcome:

It is awesome that you are coming up with new material as you write, but going from one to another to another is not going to get your writing career to the success you want or deserve. Write those ideas in a spiral, a notes app on your device where you can keep all your new ideas and then get back to work on your current project. Not much to this one, but keep in mind that it’s hard to juggle four, five, or six projects when you could already be done with one and moving on to the next.

Wanting to Write on Paper

Distraction:

You are so tired of looking at this stupid screen and you want to use pen on paper.

Overcome:

Go ahead and use paper and pen if you want, just know that you will have to eventually type it all into a document anyway if you want to publish it. One other thing you can do is, invest in a good stylus and note app that allows you to write in your own hand. I have an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil. I downloaded Upad 3 and use them to write notes long hand to save for future reference. (Check out a recent post on how I use my Upad 3 app here.)

Snacking

Distraction:

I don’t know what it is when you sit in that chair, it’s like your body is working against you. I am always looking for snacks that are small and in pieces to have while I work. My go to right now: Bunch a Crunch. I know, it’s not healthy, but I’m a chocolate lover so… yeah.

Overcome:

If you can afford to (and I would love to do this) put a cabinet or mini-fridge in your office and stock it with healthy snacks and drinks so you only have to roll over and grab what you want, no need to even get out of your chair. Let’s try not to over do it though. If that is not an option, gather the things you will need to satisfy you before you start so that you don’t feel like you are getting up every ten minutes to hunt for a snack. Try for something healthy to keep your energy up. Raisins are my go to when I have them. See, I can be healthier than Bunch a Crunch! 🙂

Health

Distraction:

All I do is sit at this computer all day. I’m worried that my health is declining. Writers/authors aren’t very active while writing, you know.

Overcome:

Well, you could schedule a time to exercise, get a desk that requires you to stand while working or even invest in one that is attached to a treadmill so you can walk while you work. (If you are handy with tools, you could build one onto an existing treadmill!) I would love one of those since walking is what I like to do for exercise!

Phone

Distraction:

That darn contraption was created as a distraction! Phone calls, notifications, email… it’s a writers/authors nightmare!

Overcome:

Put that thing on silent or somewhere out of earshot. Even better, do both! I tend to tell myself that it has to charge and will put it on our charging stand in another room so I can’t hear any notifications (since I turned them off anyway) or calls and won’t be distracted by it.

 

Windows

Distraction:

Well, looking out the windows on a nice day could invoke feelings of enjoying the hot summer days outside on the patio with a refreshing drink.

Overcome:

Hmm, if you can get any work done while being out there, then by all means… enjoy! If not, well then you will have to close yourself in a dark room with a light and hope for the best. Seeing the outdoors should encourage you to continue on, once you get things going and systems become familiar, you will have plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors while you write.

What writing distractions do you have and how do you overcome them? Did I miss any that should be added? Please comment below! I would love to hear your story!!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s