Focus is at the heart of success. Unfortunately, we do not live in a world that nurtures concentration and single-minded devotion to one’s art. So, how can you minimize those pesky interruptions that keep you from writing?
Let’s start with all things online – they are just beckoning for your time and attention. Luckily, there are some tricks to reduce your susceptibility to those online Sirens.
- Only check email, social networking and news sites once or twice a day. If absolutely necessary, check every hour but only for five minutes
- Turn off email and smart phone notifications of any sort while you are writing
- Close your Internet Browser while you’re working – do your research beforehand
- If feasible have a dedicated computer or lap top that is strictly for writing – nothing else, not even checking the weather
Of course, not all activity distractions are digital. You may be pulled in by your favorite TV show or sidetracked by the need to clean the house from top to bottom. It’s also not unusual that cravings for ice cream or potato chips supersede the writing process (I’m in the potato chips category). Here are some tips to minimize the temptation to self-interrupt:
- Create a very calm and nurturing writing environment
- Remove TVs from your writing area
- If at all, only keep very small amounts of snack food in your writing area
- Leave all reading material that is not immediately related to your novel outside your writing space – read for fun in other areas of the house that you can’t see from your desk
While you have quite a bit of control regarding the Internet and activities that pull you away from your novel, people distractions are a little bit more complex. Setting boundaries can be challenging.
First of all, decide on the people who are allowed unlimited access to you – such as small children. Then list the people who are very dear to you but would be fine with you being unavailable at times. In these cases, telling people in advance when you are busy is most helpful – especially when you live in the same house.
People on your periphery are much easier to deal with. A simple, “Sorry but I am really busy right now. Can we do this later?” usually does the trick. In addition,
- Turn off your cell phone while you are working – or at least your message notifications
- Assign a gate keeper if you are living with somebody - that person can screen phone calls and visitors for you
- Protect your writing time with velvet fists
- Practice saying no to anything you don’t really want to do
WRITING YOUR NOVEL FROM THE GROUND UP: How to Build Your Story While Building Yourself as a Writer for Long-Term Success–In Two Parts. Part I starts on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 and Part II starts on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 (This class is designed for you to jump in wherever you are in the process. If you are just beginning your story, or have gotten stuck partway through, start with Part I, “Your Story Blueprint.” If you have the story arc and characters firmly in place, then Part II, “Completing Your Draft” would be a perfect place to begin.)
For more information, visit our classroom page.