How to Avoid Distractions While Writing
When I write, it’s easy for me to get caught up in things that do not produce words on the page. I’ll get distracted because I can’t remember the name of a place or a person and then go on a hunting frenzy to find it. After some time, I might have what I couldn’t remember, but I’ve been pulled completely out of my writing zone. But that’s just one of many ways I get distracted. Like many, I write on my computer. Which has internet. Which as an infinite amount of distractions.
I’m here to tell you that you can make efforts to be distraction free when writing. I’ve broken down some of the main ways I get distracted and ways to combat them. If you don’t see one of your main weaknesses (or a solution), leave a comment and I’ll update! Together, we can all learn the best ways to avoid distractions.
You can’t remember a specific piece of information
When I come across a name or other information I cannot remember, I do one of two things. First, I check my better organized sheets of information. If I can’t find it within a couple of seconds, I move on. If it’s a name I can’t remember, I will type NAME as a placeholder. Obviously NAME doesn’t always fit the information. I’ll call out a sentence with questionable details by highlighting, underlining, bolding, italicizing – whatever I can that will make it stand out. That way when I am editing, and not focused on being in a rhythm, I can dig around to find what it should be.
This one is probably one of the most difficult to avoid. If I’m writing a passage and I need to know credible information about space, I’m caught between leaving my work and researching for the correct information, or making something up and potentially writing something that will need to be scrapped and rewritten in the future.
So what’s the solution? If you can foresee information that will be necessary in future passages, set a time dedicated to just research. Gather as much as you can during that time so when you are writing, you have easy accessible information without needing to research.
However, not all of us can foresee every tidbit that we’ll need. In that case, I suggest finishing what you can of that passage or train of thought (or outlining what you intended to accomplish later in the scene) so that you can afford to take the time to research without loosing the train of thought.
This one might be the most obvious to some, but maybe not to everyone. One main way I combat this enormous distraction is to turn off my wifi. But that only works if you are writing in a platform that doesn’t require internet.
If you are using an internet-based platform, try making your browser full screen (like in Chrome, when you press the green circle). This may not be the best solution, but it at least drowns out notifications or other distractions on your desktop.
Another solution is to use a program that blocks certain sites for a period of time. I’ve never used one, but I have had several friends throughout college who would use them so they weren’t checking Facebook when trying to study for exams.
You can only get so much done if you are constantly being distracted by those around you. Try to create a productive atmosphere that is specific to what helps you the most. Go to a cafe, shut your door, tell people you are not to be disturbed for the next hour. One of the easiest ways people can distract you is by texting or calling you. If you can, turn your phone on silent or put it out of reach so you aren’t tempted to check it. Whatever it takes, do it. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you can manage when you know that certain distractions are your writing kryptonite.