Though writer’s block probably most often puts a wrench in writing, distractions take a close second. From seeing new emails in your inbox to hearing the beeps of new texts on your phone, there are countless distractions that can pull you away from your work.
By taking steps to nix the multitasking, you can really focus on writing sans any distractions – and we’ve got a handful of tips and tricks for doing just that.
1. Use a distraction-free text editor like WriteRoom or OmmWriter
Websites are filled with distractions like pop-ups, ads, and videos – in fact, even programs like Microsoft Word are surrounded by lots of little toolbars that can be subtly bothersome. Luckily, there are tons of text editors out there for both PCs and Macs that eliminate all the noise and keep it simple – Wordpress allows you activate a “distraction-free writing” mode that hides all the toolbars and buttons, as does WriteRoom for Macs. Q10 does the same for PCs, while OmmWriter takes it a step further by offering calming backgrounds and audio that are a little more Zen.
2. Set a time frame for your writing sessions and take breaks
Having a huge chunk of time to focus on writing seems perfect, but adding some structure can really ensure that you’re focusing and making the most of your time. If you’re someone who likes checking your email, phone, or favorite websites frequently, built-in breaks offer something to work toward – and if you’re encountering some writer’s block, built-in breaks offer some time to clear your mind. Eventually, you’ll see what works best for you and find a good rhythm – you can even set timers so you know when it’s time for a break.
3. While writing, block websites that you’re tempted to check
PCWorld had this tip, and we agree – if you can’t concentrate when it’s easy to access your favorite websites, block them while you’re writing. There are programs and apps like SelfControl that are specifically designed for deterring distractions, though most computers have the ability to block and unblock websites generally without any extra software. Or, take it a step further and unplug the computer from the Internet completely.
4. Don’t listen to music you really like
Seems weird to listen to music you don’t like, right? BuzzFeed had this great idea though, and it makes sense – though a lot of people work best with some noise or music in the background, listening to music you really like can actually be distracting because you become more focused on that. By picking something that won’t consume your attention, your focus stays on whatever you’re writing.
If you find any noise distracting, be sure to keep things silent – turn off the TV, silence your phone, etc.
5. Eat before you write
It might seem silly, but it’s true -- a grumbling stomach can be a huge distraction when you’re trying to write. You’ll start thinking about your hunger, contemplating what your next meal will be, or leave your writing completely in search of a snack. It’s a good idea to eat before you start writing or plan a built-in break for it.
From the background on your screen to the timing of your meals, there are a lot of things that we might not realize are distracting while we’re trying to write. Keep these tricks and tips in mind for more fruitful and focused writing.