#4 Writer Distractions
Writer Procrastination and Distractions
People have asked me how I find the time to write. How, as a writer, do I deal with procrastination and distractions that keep me from the keyboard? Well, it’s like anything else in life that you feel is important ~ you make the time. Maybe you get up at 5:00a.m. to exercise before going to work. Why? You schedule that hour or so into your day because it’s important to you.
You schedule your lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00 because you know if you don’t, you’ll keep working and before you realize it, it’s 3:00 and too late for lunch. You end up cranky with a headache and are much less efficient than if you’d taken your hour to eat. It’s important…
The same holds true with writing. If you want to be a writer, schedule some time every day to write ~ don’t procrastinate, thinking “I’ll do it tomorrow” because, as we all know, tomorrow never comes.
So what should you write about? Anything…as long as you’re exercising that ‘writing muscle’. Initially, it would probably be easier to write about something you know well. A hobby. A project you enjoy. A sport. Anything you’re familiar and comfortable with. The important thing is to write. And the more you write, the better a writer you’ll be. The old adage “Practice makes perfect” applies to this as much as anything else…
Set aside a specified time each day and make it a priority. Don’t put it off while you throw in a load of laundry or walk the dog. If you decide 5:00 to 6:00p.m. is your Writing Hour, stick to it. If you’re a morning person, maybe it would be best to get up an hour early and write before the kids get up or life gets in the way.
Go to your home office or your desk ~ wherever it may be ~ and sit down, get comfortable at the keyboard and “become a writer” at your specified time. Be sure you don’t have anything else of importance to do for the next hour.
And frankly, it doesn’t even have to be an hour ~ that may be overwhelming at first. You could schedule 15 minutes but be sure you actually write for 15 minutes. Don’t sit and think for 10 and then write for 5… Set a timer so you know when your time is up. You don’t want to be watching the clock. And when the timer goes off, stop writing.
You’re trying to discipline yourself to write during a specified time period. So you can’t allow yourself to continue working beyond the limit. Start and stop as planned. Eventually, as you become more comfortable and accustomed to the act of writing, you can lengthen the time period.
Alright, you’ve decided on the time period and set your timer. Now what? If you’ve already given some thought to your subject matter, start writing. If not, clear your mind of other intruding thoughts and begin writing about…something…anything… The subject really isn’t as important as the act of writing. Get comfortable with it and before long, you’ll get into ‘the flow’ and time will fly.
Now, to address those pesky distractions… First and foremost, turn off your phone, pager, and anything else that hums, buzzes, or plays a distracting tune. Unless it’s an emergency, it will wait until your time is up.
Either get into the habit of checking your emails before your allotted writing time or wait until you’re done to do it.
Tell friends and family that you will be writing at such-and-such a time and not to call or come knocking. And do not answer the phone or the door during this time. People will realize you are serious about becoming a writer ~ or a better writer ~ if you stick to your schedule and don’t let them intrude.
If possible, close the door to your home office or otherwise block yourself off from the rest of the house and its activities. Laundry will wait. The dog was walked before you sat down. And, honestly, no one will starve before your time is up.
Whenever you try to initiate a new routine, people and events seem to conspire to prevent it. It’s a fact of life that people don’t like change. So you will most likely encounter resistance to your new endeavor. It’s up to you to make it a priority and persevere until the newness wears off! Once the new routine becomes your regular routine, it will get easier. You’ll no longer want to become a writer, you will be a writer…
Good luck! And until the next post, remember…
“Read to escape reality . . . Write to embrace it.” ― Stephanie Connolly
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