If you’re anything like me, however, sometimes it can be difficult to get started. Distractions are everywhere and I’m convinced that the outside world is conspiring to keep me from writing. Whether it’s something in the fridge calling for me to eat it, a cat jumping up on my laptop, or I’m checking Drudge for the hundredth time today.
Your only weapon against these distractions is to preemptively defeat them.To achieve this, you must identify your biggest distractions beforehand.
Here are mine, in no particular order:
I don’t know if I just don’t eat enough junk food during the day at work or what my problem is. (That’s actually an joke for the co-workers. I pretty much eat junk food all day long and am also first in line whenever we see the ever-coveted “free food” email.)
Anyhow, food is a big thing that gets in the way when I’m writing. I constantly find myself taking a “quick break” from writing and wandering up to the kitchen in the middle of the night to open the fridge in hopes that I’ll find a fresh package of cheesy hotdogs that has magically appeared. So far it hasn’t.
To beat this: This is a no-brainer, but you just need to bring a snack stash with you when you sit down to write. Cheese and crackers and a couple of cookies usually does the trick for me, but just to sound a little more sophisticated I’ll recommend an apple and a cup of some fantsy pantsy tea instead.
This one can be a killer. It’s worse on the front-end of a writing session, but if I’m not careful, I can end up wasting a lot (let’s say that in all caps: A LOT) of time picking out what I want to listen to. If I can get past that obstacle and actually start writing, there’s another far more dangerous one that sometimes pops up to interrupt the writing. Youtube. I’m like, yeah this Backstreet Boys album from 2000 I’m listening to on iTunes is fine and all, but I think I’d rather listen to One Direction right now, so let’s open up the Youtube and find some videos. And you know this doesn’t end well. After one song ends, I have to search for another and then another and then another.
To beat this: I think hardcore discipline is the only way. Don’t mess around hunting for the perfect music, just type a band in Pandora and let them decide. If you’re really focused on what you’re writing, after a while you won’t even be paying attention to what you’re listening to anyhow. Another suggestion is to pick something instrumental right off the bat. I’d suggest something New Age along the lines of Tangerine Dream.
Or in the worst case scenario, just put on a Paramore mix. It all begins and ends there, anyhow.
Mindless browsing, surfing, and facebooking
This one is the worst. There are so many thing that get in your way. It’s hard not to keep going back to your favorite site when they are right there at your fingertips. It’s hard not to constantly check your traffic stats, email, and Twitter feed every ten seconds. It’s hard to not look away when two of your friends are engaging in a idiotic political argument on Facebook.
To beat this: As much as it pains me to say it, sometimes all you can do is get this out of your system. Get this stuff out of the way before you start writing. Check every site that you “need” to check before you start writing. When you’re satisfied that all of your favorite sites will be able to function without you checking on them for a couple of hours, then you can begin writing. Also, I’ve found that if I leave my gmail open in another tab, it stops me from endlessly checking it since I know I’ll notified if any new emails come in.
So there you have it. We’ve all got some major distractions that get in the way of our writing. The key is to identify them and have a plan to overcome them before they take away too much of your writing time.
[Edit to add] Oops, I found a typo earlier in this post. When I said “Backstreet Boys” and “One Direction,” I actually meant to type “Metallica” and “Slayer.” Ha ha. Silly me.