Welcome! Last time, I talked a little about creating a writing schedule, so I thought I would discuss distractions a bit. Now, I know people who swear by eliminating ALL distractions, even if that means cutting off all those fancy electronics they’ve collected over the years. I’m not one of them. Personally, I believe in indulging those procrastination itches in moderation.
I’m going to go through the top five instances of procrastination (and yes, realizing that that’s what they are is half the battle) I face or hear about , so I can show you what I mean by “moderation.”
1. Let’s start with the hardest one: Social Media. Who really goes more than half an hour without checking the Book of Faces or Tweeter or whatever social site is hot that week? It’s damn near impossible. I know. I get those urges, even when I know I’m supposed to be writing. I don’t suggest going cold turkey. If you’re anything like me, ignoring the urge only makes you fixate more. I moderate things by only allowing myself a five minute break when I hit a lull in writing. Even then, I limit myself to checking my professional accounts or my writing group. Otherwise, I’d get sucked down the rabbit hole.
2. The most annoying of all: Calls/texts. It’s not annoying because of the people (unless they know it’s your writing time and do it anyway), but because we have this weird desire to know who did what when. Personally, I keep my phone in sight. I allow myself that half-second glance to see if it’s important. If it is (it rarely ever is), I respond. If it’s not, I write on, assured in my knowledge that I’m not missing anything important (aka everyone I know is safe and nothing life-threatening is happening)!
3. Music. I classify this as a distraction because many people think it is. I allow it to play while I work. Once I get into a scene, nothing can really pull me out of it. If you’re the type to get easily distracted by music, but still want to listen while writing, I suggest instrumentals or something in a language you don’t speak. That way, you’re less inclined to sing along and lose focus.
4. TV Shows. I rarely get this urge, but I know it pesters a lot of people. When it does strike during writing hours (or bursts or however you write), if I’m in a lull (always wait for a lull), I let myself look at the episode description and remind myself that watching that episode will be my reward when I’m done doing productive things.
5. Food and drink breaks. A lot of people I know sit down to write and are suddenly overwhelmed with hunger or thirst. Lies! It’s just your brain saying “Waah… I don’t know what to write.” My advice, keep a drink with you and keep snacks in your writing area. My chocolate and Pocky stashes are on my desk. Pick something bitesized and keep it nearby.
I guess what all this is meant to convey is that you don’t need to eliminate distractions. In my experience, it’s better to acknowledge and moderate them. All work and no play makes work freakin’ unbearable. Just make sure to limit yourself so you still get your work done!