If there is one thing that plagues a writer more than anything else, it would have to be distractions.
They are productivity killers, and, unfortunately, in the day and age we live in, they are EVERYWHERE.
Charles Dickens could surround himself in a room filled with books and low lighting, and write away behind closed doors.
Ernest Hemingway could plod his way through an alcohol haze. After all, one of his more famous quotes is, “Write drunk, edit sober.”
But, today, we have the Internet. We have our little word processing programs open (I prefer Scrivener, but your mileage may vary), while our phones are sitting beside us, happily ding-donging each time a notification comes along.
This really causes a problem with flow.
Flow is really important to artists in general, but especially so for authors. It’s what helps one get into the “groove” of what we’re writing and focus on it.
I always term it “Stream of Consciousness” writing and, when it happens, I absolutely love it. The words fly out of my fingers and onto the page before I really even know what was written.
Some authors might work a little differently, but many that I have spoken to have said very similar things happen to them.
That “Stream of Consciousness”, when it kicks in, is a major aspect of not only the quantity of words you can get out in one sitting, but the quality, as well.
Distractions will kill that flow. They will bring you right out of the stream and back into a “Normal sense of reality”.
With this in mind, what can you do to help limit the amount of distractions?
I can tell you what works for me, and, if you;d like to try them and they work, let me know!
This is a big aspect for my own writing. I used to, way back in the olden days, make CDs with songs that I found that would help me write a lot better. Most of the time, it was instrumental-only; no vocals would be involved.
This is my biggest recommendation, since music with vocals can actually color the quality of what you are writing. You’ll catch hints of what you were listening to in dialogues, or in different aspects of the story. If that is what you were going for, then use it, but, otherwise, avoid lyrics.
I’ve discovered mixes on YouTube, created by people that lover instrumental music. IN particular, I have really come to appreciate “Epic Music:” or “Epic Scores”, and if you do a simple YouTube search for those terms, you will run across quite a few videos, comprised of 2, 3, 6, and sometimes even 10 straight hours of this music. What a great way to just listen, close your eyes, and get into the flow!
Here’s an example, one which I have used (and really enjoyed), myself…
This one is a hit or miss, and is entirely dependent upon the type of personality you have. Some people LOVE clutter, and work best when they are surrounded by mess. Others, not so much. For them, if there is clutter, their mind becomes cluttered as well, conforming to fit the environment. This can lead to quite a few distractions, and, if that is the way you are, you should make your environment suitable for the way you work.
Speaking of environment, what is happening around you can, and will, influence how you work. Your writing space is your sanctuary, and should be treated as such.
Even if it is just a little corner in a room somewhere, such as your bedroom, with a small table and chair to write on, the space you write in SHOULD be used for only that purpose.
It should be treated as if it is a holy sanctuary, dedicated to the sole purpose of putting words on the paper or screen. While this may seem odd, doing this will help to train your mind so that when you sit at that chair, at that desk, it is ready to work.
Turn Off The Phone
This is a big one, and I know that a lot of people will probably have problems with it, but it is true that the smart phones of today are MAJOR distractions away from the flow of work that you can get going. Turn it off, or, at least, turn its connection to the internet off.
These are just a few of the things that you can do to help improve your writing and make it as distraction free as you can get it.
Remember that the flow, once started, is a beautiful thing. Keeping it there does not have to be as hard as some make it out to be.