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Writing Through The Distractions

I have 9,500 words due to my editor by January 25th. That’s a little more than a month from now, but I have also made it my goal to crank this project out by December 26th. That’s only nine days away! Factor in that Christmas day will surely result in 0 words, I now have 8 days to get this taken care of.

As a “stay-at-home” freelancer, I continually find myself distracted by…EVERYTHING. Before I wrote that sentence I became slightly fascinated by a ladybug, which appeared to be posing as a holly berry on a tree branch outside the window. I stared at that ladybug for several minutes until it crawled behind a leaf. The fascinating life of ladybugs! Now, I am Google searching “Holly berry” and finding out that I apparently meant “Halle Berry.” Oh, wow, I completely forgot about her blockbuster film B.A.P.S…

Everything around me is grade-A distraction material (I nonchalantly meow at a bird outside the window). For those of us that make an income from writing, the world is our poison. (birds…birds…what if we lived in a bird world, complete with bird writers…Charles Chickens!) Reddit, Facebook, Buzzfeed, Youtube, and Huffington Post—our digital addictions.

In this time of my distraction, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to learn how to fend it off. So, here’s a few things I will be keeping in mind or using in this forever war.

Noise

The sound level in your workspace can be a killer. If there’s too much noise you can hardly concentrate. If there’s too little noise you can become lost in daydreams. Finding the right balance of both worlds is the key to getting the mind on the straight and narrow. For me, playing music only leads to more Google searches about the history of a song or band. I recently found Coffitivity, which is a site that plays audio recordings from coffee shops and cafes. Perhaps, the sound of people chatting and clanging spoons on cups has given my mind the impression that I need to appear busy in front of my invisible co-diners. Even if it just a placebo effect, I have found that Coffitivity has helped me to focus more on typing away. Check them out.

Drowning Out My Mind

My mind is essentially an epic novel that I will never write. I recently discovered how to time travel as well, but I haven’t figured out how to prove it to others. I could happily spend the rest of my life in a catatonic state of mental adventures. Unfortunately, that’s not a viable option. To snuff out some of the ceaseless chatter in my head, I recently started meditation. Before I begin writing, I meditate for 10 minutes. Many people don’t know how to begin meditating. There are several different techniques for beginners, and one way to get started is through guided meditation. I’ve found Calm to be a helpful online tool to get the job done. Calm lets you determine the amount of time you want to use to help clear your mind. It also features soothing ambient noise and a sultry guide voice. Check it out!

I’m not on a journey to find enlightenment, but if I find it along the way…FINE.

All These Web Sites!

Reddit will be the death of me. However, I will try to prolong the inevitable. For those of us that rely on the Web to do research, time wasting sites are just one click away. Luckily, there are browser extensions that can block or limit the amount of time that can be spent on a Web site on a given day. I highly recommend StayFocusd. It is very configurable and quite easy to use. Oh crap! I have 26 seconds to load this gif from Imgur!!! HURRY HURRY HURRY!!! Dang… didn’t load in time.

Other Considerations

Time: Figure out when you are the most productive. It seems like a majority of writers are on top of their game in the morning.

Place: Your environment is everything. Find your zen spot and stick to it, but try and get some sun each day (vitamin D deficiency. no bueno). What is your optimal writing space? Closet, garage, car, bathroom, kitchen table?

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Now that I have spent part of the day writing this post, I am now down to 7.3 days to spit this writing project out. Maybe I will worry about it tomorrow.

What techniques do you use to avoid becoming distracted?

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