Simple Ways to Avoid Distractions and Get Better Focus
Photo by Chris Dlugosz

Simple Ways to Avoid Distractions and Get Better Focus

People ask, "If you really wanted to do something badly enough, wouldn't you be doing it?"

But we know better. We know about resistance, self-doubt, procrastination, fear. We know all about those things that keep us from our writing work. The distractions, the writer's block. Every time we sit down to write, it seems, something comes up. The dog wants outside, the cats want to cuddle, the family wants their dinner. Then when you finally sit back down, you're so frustrated and your creativity has gone out the window.

You're a writer, right? You want to write, get the words down on the page, and work toward your writing goals.

It's been my experience that if I want to write, I have to make it happen. I have to give it priority in my life. I have to create an environment where I can avoid distractions and get focused. It's so much easier just to sit in front of the TV all night or spend the evenings and weekends doing anything other than writing.

No one understands your need to write, your need for quiet alone time, and your need to sit and think. And it's hard to explain when you're frustrated and mad about how little progress you've made.

Well, it's time to change all that. It's time for a little self-discipline. So, what are some great ways you can work toward creating an environment where you're happy, making progress toward your writing goals, and seeing others respect your writing time?

Here are a few ways to get you started…

Use a distraction blocker app.

One of the Android apps I've used a lot is the Self Control for Study app by Special J. It keeps me from using my phone to check my email or my Facebook and Twitter walls every five minutes or surf the internet. Whenever I try to access a program on my phone, the app takes me back to the "study" screen. It's a reminder that I need to avoid distractions and stay focused. 

Of course, it doesn't stop me from turning to my computer or running off to do something else, but it keeps me off the phone which can be a huge distraction for me. You can set exceptions to the rule. On the exceptions tab, you can select applications that you want to still be executable, like the call function.

I also discovered the "blocking mode" on my phone. It's a way to automatically set my phone to switch to airplane mode during a specified time frame.

Close the programs.

Close all of your computer programs outside of your word processor. There are computer tools, like Write or Die, or methods to block out distractions on your screen's background. If I'm writing on paper and I'm near my computer, a black screensaver keeps me from looking at all of the shiny objects on my desktop.

Remember your why.

Every time you turn away from your writing work, bring yourself back by reminding yourself why you want to write in the first place. Why is it important to you that you get your work done?

Without a bigger goal to keep us in line, we'll turn to whatever activity is easier. Set yourself up to succeed by remembering your why.

Start (or restart) with small goals.

If you're trying to sit down to write, start with a small time commitment. Give yourself 15 minutes. Do this for a week, at least. If you're having trouble getting the words down, that's okay. Just accept any progress you make in those 15 minutes. Do it every day and you'll start to let go of the things that are holding you back.

I hope that helps. It's more of a head game than anything, so get your head right and focus on what's motivating you to write.

I'd love to hear your comments on this topic, especially about phone apps or computer programs you're using to help you avoid distractions and stay focused. Feel free to share them in the comments.

Jody Calkins
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Jody Calkins

MG/YA Author & Book Editor at Emery Road Writing Services, LLC
Jody Calkins is a MG/YA Author & Book Editor, Writer's Coach, Content Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Pilot's Wife. Author of SHATTERED and TAINTED (YA speculative thrillers). Her editing services and training programs help novelists improve their writing skills, get motivated to write, improve productivity and time management, and battle self-doubt and other roadblocks. She works with middle-grade, young adult, and adult books in a variety of genres including Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller, and Self-Help.
Jody Calkins
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