Showing posts with label healthy writing habits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healthy writing habits. Show all posts

Monday, June 18, 2018

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 http://www.melindabrasher.com

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

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 www.melindabrasher.com

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

6 Tips for Creating Healthy Writing Habits

Getting on track with your writing can be a daunting task, creating healthy habits can make this a bit easier.

1.  Anything that we do for 21 days becomes a habit, so step number one is to make a commitment to yourself and your writing -  give yourself this amount of time to develop your habit without feeling bad if you find you skip a day or forget, just get back on track and keep going as soon as you remember.

2. Schedule writing time. Yep, put it on your calendar and honor it like you would any other important appointment. Choosing the same time each day may make this easier for you - get up earlier in the morning, commit to working each evening, or during the kids' nap time.

3. Write no matter what. Sometimes all of us arrive at our desk without something to write - otherwise known as writer's block - pushing through this stagnation is the only way out. That means write something about anything. If you are unable to write the article, the chapter, or the poem - write in your journal about your inability to write and soon you may find the words flowing.

4. Remember to stay fed and hydrated. Water is your body's friend. So is food. Make sure to have some easy and healthy snacks handy and water beside you so that you can take a break and then quickly get back to your work.

5. Exercise. For some, sitting at the computer all day is normal. To keep from getting stiff, take periodic breaks to stand, stretch and walk.

6. Be distraction free. Make sure that you are clear about when and how long you will spend on the internet doing things unrelated to your writing - social networking, answering e-mails, etc. You may find it easier to keep your focus if you put in your time writing first and then get on-line. Also, writing time is not to be used to catch up on telephone calls.

Establish healthy writing habits and see you work propelled to the next level.

__________________________

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 www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.


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