20 Tips To Kill The Distractions

Everyone has been there – in fact, I’ve been there for three months.  In today’s world there is such a  plethora of gadgets, TV and potential disruptions to your writing time that it becomes far too easy not to write; especially if you’ve hit a bit of a brick wall.

I need to write this, not only to share, but also (mainly) to remind of the things I need to do to get back on track with finishing that book.

The list below are my top 20:

1. We all say, but rarely do it – turn off the damn phone!  There’s far too much available on your mobile now.  We’ve become Pavlov’s dogs to every little notification that pops up.  Turn it off, take the battery out and give it to a friend for the night to take away the temptation.

2.  Uninstall!  If like me you find apps, PC games too tempting take the big step of taking it off your device.  My vice is the Football Manager game.  I looked at my stats recently for this game and realised that in the last six months I’ve spent more time playing this than writing.  It hurt me to delete the files but it’s gone now and I have to get over it.

3. Turn off the TV.  Obvious I know but it’s sometimes easy to leave it on in the background.  In fact, I have the football on as I type.  If you have Sky for example give the viewing card to the friend who has your phone battery.

4. Write when you know you won’t be disturbed.  Wait till the kids are in bed or get up early.  Make it a habit, once you’ve got used to doing it becomes as routine as brushing your teeth.

5.  Set yourself targets.  We all do it, 1000 words a day, for example, yet, how many stick to this every day?  Again, make it routine and find the time.

6.  Reward yourself.  Fancy a beer or shopping trip.  Once you’ve set your goal, say finish four chapters, treat yourself but set the target and the reward before you start.

7.  Tell everyone what you plan to achieve.  There’s nothing worse than admitting you’ve let yourself done, so tell people what you are planning to achieve and ask them to enquire as to your progress.

8. Plan your time and tell everyone.  Make sure they understand that this is work time and you are not to be disturbed.

9. Back on multimedia – give your PS3 or Xbox controllers to that same friend who now holds your phone battery and your satellite TV card.

10.  Go somewhere else.  If people don’t listen and distract you, pick up your laptop and go somewhere else.

11.  In fact, write somewhere new whenever you can.  Different environments will give you new inspiration.

12. Get dressed.  If you treat writing as a job then don’t sit in your pyjamas.  You’ll feel different when you make that transition.

13. Fill up before you start.  Eat an drink before you get going so you don’t have the excuse of wanting a snack of a cuppa 10 minutes in.

14. Similarly, go the loo before you start!  You tell your kids to go before you head off on a long journey and your writing is just the same, it’s a journey for your readers so don’t break it up going for a pee!

15. Write something else.  If you are truly stuck and find yourself looking for reasons to avoid writing your WIP chuck together the outline for your next book, create a blog or rewrite your last few paragraphs.  Once the creativity starts you’ll more than likely get going again.

16.  Ask Why! I’ve blogged on the importance of asking why your characters are motivated and you can apply this to yourself.  Ask yourself why you are avoiding writing and when you have identified the issue deal with it.  Perhaps you aren’t happy with the way your book is going, not a problem, scrap the section that’s causing you a problem and rewrite it.

17.  Write on the sly.  If you have a family and a job it can be hard to find the time. why not book the day off and not tell anyone? Take yourself off to the library or the park and give yourself a whole day dedicated to you and the world you are creating.  Don’t forget to tell people afterwards though to avoid difficult questions when your wife finds out you weren’t at work!

18.  Try something new.  If you aren’t motivated then try a new way of looking at your work.  Use Pinterest to inspire you or try mapping out your story in a different format (mind map, flow chart etc)

19. Stop making excuses!  Don’t allow yourself the luxury of finding a reason (any of the above).  The friend that is holding all of your entertainment equipment can’t be overloaded too much.  Give them the I-pad, xbox, remote control, I-pod etc – if you know it distracts you then make them hold it for however long you have planned to write.

20.  most importantly – believe.  If you don’t believe in your work then you’ve not failed, in fact you could argue you’ve succeeded in finding an opportunity to improve what you’ve written.  Take that opportunity and fix what’s wrong.  The feeling of achievement will inspire you to keep going.

With all this said I now have to put it into practice.  I’ve set myself a deadline of six weeks to finish my first draft (around 40K words to go).  With this in mind, I’m not going to blog until I’m half way through my word count target. 

What do you think?  What else can we do to kill the excuses?

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