Stay Focused: 4 Ways to Delete Writing Distractions From Your Life

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Feeling a little distracted lately? Like every time you sit down to write, something — or someone — gets in the way?

If you’re reading this post, it’s probably because you’re not writing. You’re not writing because something along the way knocked you off course, and you’re not sure how to get back on track.

Distractions are everywhere. Social media and mobile apps don’t make it any easier. If you’re struggling to get your writing done, you need to take a few steps to delete those distractions from your life and leave more time for writing.

Here are a few simple strategies to help you get started.

1. Shut down the internet

The quickest way to bring your writing productivity to a halt is to try writing with readily available internet access. Think you’re just going to do a little research? You might … after you check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and finally drag yourself out of the Tumblr black hole.

Search online for apps or plugins that will disconnect your WiFi for a certain period of time or temporarily block you from visiting certain websites. Or write in a location that doesn’t have a good connection — or any connection at all!

Oh. And you might want to turn off your phone, too. Yes, seriously.

2. Create a “do not disturb” nook

It’s not always our own fault when our writing time gets interrupted. Sometimes others are involved, whether it’s in person or through text messages. And we’re not always eager to turn down social interaction when it’s standing right in front of us (admit it!).

When it’s time to write, though, it’s time to write. If you don’t have an office or room to isolate you while you work, create your own space. Designate it as the space where you absolutely cannot be disturbed while writing.

And if you can’t turn your phone off (sigh), just shoot back a message telling the person your characters are holding you hostage and you’ll text them back later (maybe).

3. Set a time, word or page count limit

Setting a specific milestone for yourself is another effective way to get a lot of writing done with minimal or no distractions. Thinking about how much writing you should be getting done when you’re just not into it is discouraging and leads to procrastination.

But if you sit down and know you only have to write for 45 minutes before you can move on to the next task, you’re much more likely to breeze through it in no time. And by the time you get to the end of your session, you might have a hard time convincing yourself to stop writing.

Tacking on a reward like “I can answer my text messages when I write 500 words” will help fuel your motivation to meet or even exceed your goals for the day.

4. Get up early or stay up late

Is trying to write in the middle of the day, on a break at work, or on your commute just too distracting? If you can’t focus any other time of day, waking up earlier or staying up a little later, might be worthwhile.

Before everyone else wakes up — or after most of them have drifted off to sleep — the world is quiet. If you don’t live alone, you probably have to be quiet, too. This just might be the ideal environment that will allow you to write without losing your focus.

Distractions will always circle overhead, but when it comes to writing, there’s no room for messing around. Say “no” to the things that are constantly keeping you from your stories and you’ll be proud of your completed work in no time.

How do you shun distractions when you need to write?

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Meg Dowell blogs daily at Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. Follow her on Twitter @MegDowell to start learning how to live a smarter, healthier life.... . | @MegDowell

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  1. Can not do #1 it would slow me down more then help. With my blasted dyslexia I need online spell check and the ginger addon to check my wip for errors. I can tell when a word is ‘wrong’ but some times have a hard time untangling the letters. That way the fixes are quick and I can focus on more important thing like having the current antagonist say something original instead of lame or diving deeper into the current povs mind.

  2. Excellent post, Meg! #1 works best for me.

    I use a site blocker app called SelfControl which lets me create a blacklist of sites that the software will block for a set timeframe. The block continues to work even if you restart your computer.

    Needless to say, I’ve added all social networks on my blacklist, but I’ve also included sites like BuzzFeed and Reddit since those can be time sucks as well.

    Number 3 (particularly the one about tacking rewards) is also a good one. I often get motivated by telling myself something like, “I’ll fix myself a snack once I finish this paragraph.”

  3. Nice post. What works for me is to give myself a time limit on the distractions before I start writing. Say fifteen minutes to screw around on the web a bit and check all of the site I “need” to check. It gets it out of my system and then I’m ready to go.

    I also like that idea of giving yourself a reward. If I hit 500 words I can take a five minute break and check my email or whatever.

  4. ~sigh~ so what do you do about family who turn on TV at 7:00AM and doesn’t switch it off until after midnight or later?

  5. Hi Meg,

    I use our on software FocusMe. ( Basically it’s an alternative for Selfcontrol only for Windows. Helps me a lot (that’s the reason I ended up working there 😉 )

    Cheers Will

  6. Thank you as I always need reminding and of late my productivity is down .. really down!Thanks again and God Bless! Rick =)


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