Showing posts with label Writing distractions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writing distractions. Show all posts

Overcoming Writing Distractions

I recently went to a class conducted by writers Amy K. Nichols and Joe Nassise. They talked about writing in the age of distraction (squirrel writing, they called it). It was very helpful, so I'm going to pass on some of the ideas I found most useful.

-Know your triggers. Write down all the things that distract you from writing and be ruthlessly honest as you do it. Internet surfing, e-mail, games, videos, etc tend to be big culprits, especially since you can do them on the same device you're supposed to be writing on. Even legitimate research can be a distraction, especially if you interupt the creativity of your first draft to go down that particular rabbit hole. Being aware of your worst distractions can help you avoid them (more on that below).

On the other side of the coin, know what triggers your creativity and productive writing. Sometimes wearing some item of clothing (a magic writing hat, etc), playing certain music, putting on headphones, or writing at a certain time will get you quickly in the zone. Take advantage of these triggers.

-Get into habits and do things religiously. Set aside certain writing times and treat it like a job. Ask yourself, "Would I get fired right now?" If the answer is yes, get off Facebook or whatever and get back to your job of writing.

-When writing at home, put a sign on the door (doorknob hangers work well) so that family members know you're working and know not to distract you.

-Try a brain focus app, like Brain FM. It sees what focusses you and then plays sounds that help.

-Use the Pomidoro technique (see my last post). This consists of 25-minute working sprints followed by short breaks (5-10 minutes). During your breaks it might work to reward yourself with one of those distractions you wrote down earlier.

-Give yourself deadlines, but make them reasonable and connect with other people who will keep you accountable to those deadlines. After all, if someone expects a certain number of pages from you by Monday, you're more likely to get it done.

-Resist "shiny thing syndrome" where you get excited by shiny new projects and start so many things but never finish. If this starts happening, pick one and finish it.

-Use apps that turn off the internet or black out the rest of your screen except your writing page for a certain amount of time. There are many apps and browser add-ons like this.

-Try something like Write-o-Meter, which tracks word count and keeps a log of productivity over time. It may help also you find when your most productive hours are.

-Take care of yourself mentally and physically, and don't compare yourself to others. Be kind to you.

-Give yourself permission to "be a writer." It will legitimize your work and make your work time seem more valuable.

Thanks, Amy and Joe, for all this valuable advice!

Melinda Brasher's most recent sale is a twist on Rumpelstiltskin, appearing in Timeless Tales. You can also find her fiction in NousElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at

The Pomodoro Technique for Getting Your Writing Done

I recently heard of the Pomodoro Technique--something I've done off and on for years, more or less, without having a name for it.

Here's what I love about it:  the name.  It comes from those old kitchen timers that look like tomatoes.  Tomato, in Italian, is pomodoro.  So basically, it's a fancified name for a simple but efficient work strategy.

How to use the Pomodoro Technique:

First, get a kitchen timer (or an internet timer or a fancy Pomodoro App on your phone).

Set it for 25 minutes.

Write until the timer beeps.

Take a five minute break:  walk around, play a quick round of a game, get some water, stretch, pet your cat, etc.


It's remarkably effective, and can be used for many tasks, not just writing.  Plus, it's got a great name.

Melinda Brasher's most recent sale is a twist on Rumpelstiltskin, appearing in Timeless Tales. You can also find her fiction in NousElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at

Internet Distraction

I heard a quote by author Jonathan Franzen today:

"It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction."

Do you agree?

I think it's a bit strong, but there's certainly truth behind his words.

I admit I can be prone to distraction and the internet is a huge one. I sometime use a computer program to block all websites for a certain amount of time to help me focus on writing.

If you're interested, I use Stay Focussed, a Google Chrome add-on. You can also use it to block only certain websites, to block everything but certain websites, or to give yourself only 5 or 10 minutes per day on time-suckers.

When I'm suffering from writer's block, I like to work on paper. Sometimes I'll send my current document to my Kindle, where I can read it for reference if I need to but can't edit. I have to do everything by hand and though it takes longer, it often gets me unstuck.

As for being influenced by other people, other ideas, other's constant flood of input can dilute your own style and make you doubt what is your own idea and what is not, but you can also use it to gain inspiration and deeper understanding of the human race and the world we live in. Just try to be aware of which way you're using the information overload that is the internet.

I think the most important thing is to analyze how resistant you are to internet distraction and negative influence and plan accordingly.

Melinda Brasher's most recent sale is a twist on Rumpelstiltskin, appearing in Timeless Tales. You can also find her fiction in Nous, Electric Spec, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at

Writing, Marketing, Platform Oh My

Writing, marketing, developing a platform, editing, monetizing, and the list goes on for a writer who wants to make a business of doing what they love.... WRITING. Add in the normal distractions that life can bring on a daily basis and it can be easy to lose focus. I know because it happened to me.

Does it happen to you?  You become so wrapped up in the process of marketing, branding, networking, generating new ideas, and goal setting with an action plan that you look back and find no words on the page... and those words, characters and story lines rattle around in your head trying to find their place on the page have to wait for again another day. Life's little distractions can all but halt the best of us.

So how do you tame the "distraction monsters" that try to steal your writing time? First deciding what is important to you is a big part of how you decide where to put your effort. For some, life's distractions do become more important than the writing and marketing at some point in life. Your state of health, your current financial status, and family obligations also can become distractions and may even force writing and marketing to take a back burner for a time. But if your decision to pursue your writing is burning in your heart there is a way.

Fifteen minutes a day... that is all it takes to write something. Fifteen minutes for a character description, fifteen minutes to send a marketing email to your local newspaper, fifteen minutes to network with other writers on your preferred social media site..... fifteen minutes today and every day notches out 105 minutes a week for writing and developing your platform. It can be done.

The lesson here is to rid yourself of any guilt because you haven't written or because you needed to take a break from promoting your writing. Get back on track and write. Many may not agree but writing comes first at least initially.... you cannot promote or market if you don't have something solid to offer.

Once those ideas start showing up on the page with those precious words coming from your heart the rest will follow. Time for marketing and promoting will fit easier into your daily schedule because now you are focused and know where you are headed. The ideas will flow because you are doing what you love. If you have dry periods where you have lost focus or have had been invaded by the "distraction monsters" simply go back to fifteen minutes a day. It worked for me.

Terri Forehand is an author and neonatal nurse. She lives with her husband in the hills of Nashville Indiana where they also own a small fabric shop. She is currently working on several projects including stories about quilting for kids. Visit her blog at

Preventing Distractions the Low-Tech Way

Distraction can be the number one enemy of a writer.  And when you sit down on the computer to write, distractions are plenty.  Check Facebook.  Check e-mail.  Do some marketing.  Surf.  Play a game.  Organize photos.  Defrag your hard drive.  Do research for your piece.  The list goes on.  All these have their place, but when you’re really trying to write—just write—they can cause problems.

My solution, when this happens?  Paper.  Remember paper?  And pens?  And pencils?  Yes, that old technology really helps when I’m having trouble concentrating.  There are programs to black out all the but your writing screen or prevent you from accessing the internet for a certain time.  But paper is a low-tech solution. 

It’s also ultra portable.  Paper works in a park, in bright sunshine, on a bus, all with no worries about electricity or battery life.  It works on a beach with no worries of sand or water damaging it.  It’s permitted during airplane take-off.  And it’s very user-friendly.

The downside of paper is that you later have to transfer all your scribbling to computer.  You can’t click and drag, cut and paste.  It takes time.  But if can easily make up for that in pure, distraction-free writing time to begin with.  

Try it.  You may like it.  

Melinda Brasher's short fantasy story, "Chaos Rises" is now FREE on Amazon (and everywhere else).  Her microfiction (38 words) recently won honorable mention in On the Premises' Mini Contest #25.  Read "Dusk" for free here.  Or visit her online at

Five Challenges Writers Face

Now that I have your attention. Everyday, writers face challenges that keep them from the page. 

1. Distractions: These can include telephone calls from friends, those emails in your inbox, or the fox that crosses the yard in front of the window of your work room. Limiting distractions is something every writer must learn to control. I remember speaking to a writer and hearing how whenever anyone flew into town, they called him to pick them up at the airport, after all, he was just sitting around at home. Teach those around you that your writing time is valuable and a job that you take seriously. Then train yourself to quickly clean your inbox and keep focused on the page.

2. Fear: We all face fear at sometime in our life, whether it's related to our writing or driving in an unknown city. The best way to deal with fear is to move forward and get your thoughts on the paper. Later it can be edited by you or the professional you hire. Don't worry about grammar or format, worry that you can't type fast enough to get it all down and keep going. 

3. Negativity: I remember someone asking me, "Don't all writers only have one book in them?" "No," I snapped. "The saying is everyone has one book in them. Writers have multiple books, several poems and a number of screen plays." If only I had time to flesh out all the story lines that cross my path. Remove yourself from those who tell you it can't be done, and instead surround yourself with positive thinkers.

4. Procrastination: Putting off until tomorrow what can be done today is not the way to live your life as a writer. Writing is hard work and it requires effort. Don't put off your writing project, instead sit down now and get started.

5. Perfectionism: So you finally get your story down and then you go back and edit and change and edit and change and edit and change. Perfectionism can stop a writer cold. Of course, you can always find a slightly better word choice, it's just that at a certain point in time you need to move on. 

Don't let the five challenges stop you from achieving your dreams. Instead, sit down and get to it. 


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook

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