As writers, we are easily distracted from our work. The world is a busy place, and the act of sitting alone and slowing down enough to put words to paper is a daily battle.
We’re caught in between two worlds. On the one hand, the world is telling us that bills need to be paid and people need our attention. On the other hand, we have characters in our heads telling us that they have something to say…NOW.
And of course we keep pushing our characters off because, well, they’re not real people. Whereas, our family and friends are flesh and blood, and there will be consequences for ignoring or blowing them off.
How do we find a balance and kick our distractions to the curb? Well, it starts with determining what distractions you’re prone to.
1. Adult Stuff
This is the stuff we all have to do like paying bills, doing laundry, making food, etc. Honestly, the list of adulting stuff is never ending, but if your writing time is constantly being stolen by these things, then something needs to change.
Try setting timers for yourself. Write for 30 minutes to an hour, then take a break and do chores for the same amount of time. Breaking things up into chunks and rotations helps keep your mind and body fresh. You’ll avoid getting too burned out from any one thing. Let’s face it, when you’ve been adulting all day long, you’re too exhausted to write at the end of the day. Do yourself and your writing a favor by spreading things out.
2. People Stuff
Whether it’s your family, friends, significant other, or kids, you have important relationships in your life that need your time and attention. This is great, but sometimes those we love the most can be distracting to our writing.
If you put your writing time into your schedule just as you would an appointment, a class, or event, then that time slot is full. It’s easy to feel self-conscious about telling others you’re busy when all you’re doing is sitting at the computer screen writing. Don’t think like that! Writing is just as important as anything else in your schedule, and it deserves your time. When you show others how serious you are about it, they are more likely to respect its space in your schedule.
3. Social Media
As writers, we know how important social media and platform building are to our careers. But social media is a black hole waiting to suck the time right out of your day. Creating content for one, two, or maybe five accounts can be a lot to juggle. And to be honest, sometimes we just want to zone out and scroll through feeds rather than engage our minds in writing.
I know I let myself get sucked into this, but it helps if you set up some automation for these accounts. Using apps to schedule posts can save a lot of time and keep your output consistent. Like I mentioned earlier, setting timers is a good idea. Knowing you only have ten minutes on Twitter can push you to be more productive rather than just mindlessly scrolling for as long as you feel like.
4. No Motivation to Write
This one hits a little too close to home. I struggle to find the motivation to write sometimes. Either the story isn’t working, I’m too tired, or I have too many other things to do. It’s incredible how many excuses we can come up with when we want to avoid something.
The only cure for no motivation is to simply sit down and write. Yes, you may have writer’s block. Yes, you probably have other things to do. Yes, you may want to scrap everything you have and start over. But, this is the beauty of the process. It’s a discipline that requires hard work and butt in the chair time. Don’t wait for inspiration to come to you. Go after it. With a club. Or a spear or javelin. Whatever suits your fancy.
You are a writer. Say it to yourself as many times as you need to. Distractions will always sneak into your day, but once you recognize them for what they are, you can kick them to the curb. This isn’t about ignoring tasks or people that are important, but it’s about recognizing that your writing has importance too.
Megan Burkhart (writing under the pen name Megan Lynne) is an award winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Her recent awards include the 1st place Tar Heel Award for her speculative fiction novel and an honorable mention in the 87th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition in the inspirational category. Megan is also a junior agent with Cyle Young Literary Elite and a freelance editor with Sherpa Editing. Find out more about her at meganlynneauthor.weebly.com