4 ½ Things You Don’t Need for a Productive Writing Session

Jan 3, 2024 | Better Writing

If you’ve got plenty of time to write, this post is not for you.

I’m not like that. My clients aren’t like that. We must squeeze our writing into days chock full of other things. That’s why we need to make every moment count when it is time to write.

Here are four things you don’t need when it’s time to write.

You Don’t Need Interruptions

Writing takes concentration. You must be able to focus on your work. Interruptions jar you out of a flow state. Once that happens, it’s hard to get back in the flow again.

Two things can keep interruptions at bay. You need a door you can close and agreements with people around you.

That may take some negotiating. You won’t have a problem with most adults who care about you and your work. Children, on the other hand, can be quite a different story.

My children are all grown and gone now, but I had a strict rule governing interruptions when they were at home. My kids knew that when my study door was closed, that meant I was working. They also knew that opening that door and interrupting me should only happen if a call to 911 was involved. That solved the problem most of the time.

You Don’t Need Distractions

Distractions are the devil. We’re all distracted by different things. For example, when I’m writing, well-chosen music is helpful. But there are a lot of songs I can’t listen to because I’m distracted by the spoken word. Songs with lyrics distract me because my memory adds the distracting lyrics in my head.

Figure out what distracts you. Then, eliminate it from your writing space when it’s time to write.

You Don’t Need a To-Do List

When you write, you should be thinking about writing and nothing else. To-do lists, with their unfinished items, will pull at your consciousness. It’s called the Zeigarnik Effect. Your brain’s trying to do a good thing by reminding you of what still needs to be done. Defeat those good intentions. Here are two tricks that work for me.

On days when I write, I don’t do anything else, including making up a to-do list until the writing is complete. That way, there’s nothing for my brain to worry over.

Sometimes I can’t do that. I schedule the time to handle those pesky to-do list items on those days. My brain seems to think that scheduled is as good as done. I schedule things for the wrap-up portion of my day and make sure to take care of them then.

You Don’t Need Your Phone

I love my phone. It’s a computer in my pocket that can help me communicate with other people. Not only that, but I can also check my bank balance, see when my favorite teams will play next, and figure out where to go for lunch. The problem is that none of those things help me get the writing done.

There’s plenty of research on this. Your phone is a marvelous tool but also a powerful distraction. So, turn off your phone. Then, get it out of the room. You’ll thank me.

You May Need an Internet Connection

Whether you need an internet connection or not depends on you. Some writers have a separate computer, just for writing, that cannot connect to the internet. Others use software that blocks them from internet use for a specified time.

But that’s only one group. There are other writers, and I’m one of them, who have woven internet use into their writing routine. I would be less productive if I couldn’t connect to the net while writing.

Which are you? Here is a simple test. Suppose you can connect to the net while you’re writing, and you catch yourself watching cat videos, scrolling through tweets on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, or researching the best recipe for peanut brittle. In that case, you probably can do without internet access.

If you’re in doubt, try working without an internet connection. If that works for you, make it your default.

Hold your writing time sacred if you’re writing a book and want to write well and productively. Do everything you can to make that time as productive as possible. Part of the process involves eliminating interruptions, distractions, your to-do list, and access to your phone. Figure out if you should ban internet use while writing. Doing these things won’t guarantee that you produce great work, but they’ll go a long way toward helping you do the best work you’re capable of.

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