Distractions are the devil

Oct 16, 2014 | Better Writing

Distractions are the devil. Sure, there are writers who’ve produced great work in snatches while the world swirled about them, but they’re the exception. If you want to produce great work, you need to be able to pay attention to your work and nothing else, at least for a little while.

Here are five things you can do to get the most from your writing time.

Learn to concentrate

Concentration is like a physical muscle. You can develop it so that you can concentrate in the most distracting conditions. Check out these “12 Concentration Exercises from 1918” for some ideas.

Don’t multitask

Multitasking is the devil dressed up as a productivity enhancer. Don’t be fooled. Multitasking is self-inflicted distraction. When it’s time to write, write.

Be prepared

Don’t waste precious time at the start of a writing session figuring out what you’re going to do next. Capture your ideas between sessions, to you’re ready to go when the time comes. Follow my “Firefighter Rule” and plan your next session when you finish the current one.

Get issues out of your head

One thing I learned from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, is that the things you get out of your head are less likely to suck up your brain resources. If you’re worried about something get it out of your head and on to paper or into a file. Then you can concentrate more effectively.

Eliminate technological distractions

If you write in longhand, no screen should be lit up in your presence. If you write on a computer, the only screen that should be glowing when you write is the one on your word processor.

Turn off email alerts. Turn off your phone.

Remember this

You’ll write better if you can give your writing your full attention. That’s hard to do, but worth the effort.