Last week, I settled in my mind that I would be productive in my writing, and accomplish the goals that I believe God had given me for the week. I was eager, motivated, and full of energy at the beginning of last week. It was the start of a new year, and I was ready to begin achieving my objectives that I did not do so well with last year. I was determined to get on track and begin disciplining myself to begin writing on schedule again after the holidays. Monday went by fairly smooth and I was filled with excitement for finally getting back to my timetable, however, when Tuesday rolled around the trickle of seemingly small distractions come in.
These distractions were unusual and unexpected and they took me off course. I received some of the distractions through the mail (not email but snail-mail), and I never get distracted by the mail! Another strange situation occurred when a stranger came to my door saying that he was from a phone company and wanted to come inside and take a look at my computer modem! After this supposed salesman left, I became increasingly distracted by imaginary fears. My hopes for getting back on track for writing were slowly decreasing as distractions kept piling in. Then the distracting phone calls came. I told myself that if I am working I won’t answer or even check my phone–but I did anyway! By the end of last week, I felt I had not accomplished what I wanted. I was frustrated and a bit frazzled.
When I become too distracted, I do not have the creativity in my mind I need to allow the thoughts to form and eventually write. I begin what I call “wandering” thinking when I get distracted. I think about everything but what is at hand. I am naturally a disciplined person but if you throw a few distractions my way, I can easily loose direction. Distractions look different for each person, but as a writer there are some distractions that we should be more aware of.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines distraction as something that makes it difficult to think or pay attention.
Tips for dealing with distractions:
- Turn off your cell phone or place it in another room while you are working. Nothing will distract you from writing more than your cell phone. I have taken many personal calls when I was supposed to be writing because my phone was near me and I just had to know what that person wanted. Yes, you can let your phone go to voicemail but for me that is not enough. I have to place my phone in another room when I am writing so I am not distracted by calls and texts.
- Don’t answer your door to unexpected company. It is important that you have uninterrupted time when you write. If going to a coffee shop, library or to a park helps with eliminating distractions, then go when you can. Find the place that your writing flows. For me, it is outdoors.
- Treat your writing/ministry as important as any other work. Take it seriously. Others may not, but if God has called you to write–take it seriously!
- Check your personal mail after you have completed your writing. Stopping to check your personal mail can hinder the flow of your writing.
- Schedule “good distractions,” such as lunch with a friend. If you do not schedule your good distractions you will end up disorganized and accomplishing very little.
- Have a routine and weekly schedule for your writing and stick to it! If you have your writing schedule and something comes up like a personal phone call, you already know that you will need to wait until your work is done.
- Don’t get distracted by your personal Facebook, internet or other social media. If you have social media that is used primarily for your writing ministry that is different, but if you are getting on your personal Facebook checking your status while you should be writing, it will distract you.
- Do any research for your article or book before writing. If you research while you write, you may get distracted by Google or other search engines.
- Turn off your T.V. and if you play music, set it to a station that you enjoy and leave it there. Getting up to change radio or internet stations can be a distraction.
- Get comfortable. Have the room at the right temperature and have a comfortable chair.
- Take breaks every 30 minutes to stretch, get a drink, and use the bathroom. Taking regular breaks will improve your creativity and your blood flow.
- Prepare yourself spiritually before writing. Spend time with God allowing Him to clear away any distractions.
Every writer has a creative zone, where thoughts form and writing flows. This creative zone gets hindered if our minds are distracted with things, people, and the cares of this world. As writers, we need as much time as possible in this zone. Some of the most amazing works that we write are birthed out of times when we are free from distractions. A lot of what is referred to as “writers’ block,” happens as a result of too many distractions and worry.
I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. 1 Corinthians 7:35
What do you do to deal with distractions as you write? Please share with us any tips!