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Maximize Writing Time

Making the Most of Your Writing Time

It’s a rainy day. No one is at home. Your computer purrs seductively from your desk. You take a few steps toward her. Wait—there’s a magazine that just arrived. He’s sitting squatly among the bills, smiling. And those dishes to your left. Relaxing in the sink. Needing attention.

Bing! A text!

It’s a link to a video. You start to think about Facebook. Think about Google. Think about YouTube. Wikipedia. Twitter. This is the beginning of a story called “Distraction Attack!” or “A Day in the Life of All Writers Everywhere.” Here are some tips we hope make it possible for you to actually sit down and write.

1. Declutter
When your space is cluttered, your brain can feel cluttered. Take a moment (yes, less than five minutes) to clear up the papers/mail/cat/dishes from your writing area.

2. Make Yourself Comfortable
A comfy chair, nice view or hot cup of coffee can go a long way in gearing up for a writing session. But the overarching idea here is to be free of uncomfortable distractions—not to condition yourself to need a caramel macchiato, cashmere sweater and panorama before the first words can be written. You should, however, not be freezing, starving or otherwise setting yourself up to stop soon after you’ve started.

3. Schedule Technology Downtime
Feeling consumed by social media, gadgets and technology in general is a common sentiment today. Technology has once again come to the rescue in order to help you block out none other than the distractions of technology. A quick search of the web will lead you to programs that prevent you from accessing the internet for the period of time you select, schedule your tweets so you don’t have to log in and view your feed, black out the background of your screen and so on.

Whether or not you decide to use these tools is up to you. Minimally, log out of Skype, close your e-mail and silence your phone. Shutting down the internet is up to you and your propensity for distraction.

And while it’s popular to hate, we’d like to acknowledge the benefits of this ultimate distraction machine, which include inspiration and unlimited research capabilities.

4. Use Background Noise

If quiet ain’t your thing, you have several options that are less distracting that turning on the TV or listening to music. Well, one of these is to listen to music but music without lyrics. While I often find myself typing the words to whatever I’m listening to, electronic or classical music sans lyrics keeps my energy up without blasting a chorus line that eventually works itself out through my fingers. For a more soothing, background option, noise machines that offer up various water sounds, from rain drops, to stream babbles, to ocean waves, or just simply white noise can provide a nice distraction buffer.

5. Set a Timer
Sitting down to write for all eternity is going to intimidate anyone. So don’t fall into that trap. Set a timer for 15 minutes or 30 minutes or one hour, depending on what you feel comfortable with and where you’re starting from. If you’d like to work up to a longer block of time, go for it. But the point is to set yourself up to succeed. Don’t choose something out of reach and feel bummed that you didn’t make it. Choose something that can be done and do it!

6. Reward Yourself
Cookie. TV. Movie. Puppy time. Trip to Vegas. It’s up to you!

We hope these tips contribute to your word count and your inspiration.

Do you have success with something not on this list? Post it in the comment section below!


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Reader Comments

Isaac Madhavan @ Sunday, January 20 2013 12:19 PM Flag Inappropriate
Great advice! All of this works equally well for studying and desk work too such as programming. For white noise, I prefer using a stand fan which is directed away from me and more usefully toward the PC which becomes 10 degrees centigrade cooler in temperature than without the fan.

June @ Saturday, December 15 2012 12:54 AM Flag Inappropriate
Absolute peace and quiet, preferably with a view of the sky. Music is distracting and I have to listen to it or it takes me away from my creative thoughts. The timer is a good idea, maybe . . . thank you.

sonny dinger @ Tuesday, November 06 2012 8:24 PM Flag Inappropriate
I have that pleasure in my Mac book, thank you for the suggestion Sonny

Katherine Sprenger @ Monday, July 09 2012 1:02 AM Flag Inappropriate
I absolutely agree. Music without lyrics is a must for me, and I tend to stress, so taking a moment to get comfortable is necessary also. Though I can sometimes get caught up in making myself comfortable, doing all the little things that simply have to get done! I am definitely taking this to heart.

Greta Gardner @ Thursday, May 03 2012 2:46 PM Flag Inappropriate
I listen to different types of Jazz.. For me; the music sets the tone for my writing. If I’m writing about romance, I play slow Jazz, a murder scene; I like an up temple piece. I’ve downloaded about two hours of continuous music to write by; I press play, and the writing begins.

Madeline Pemberton @ Wednesday, March 21 2012 10:30 AM Flag Inappropriate
I find Latin choirs inspirational. However, keep in mind that your background sounds should reflect the setting of your piece; having used this technique, (eg. Action movie soundtracks while writing action), I find myself writing fluidly.

Darrell McMurray @ Monday, February 27 2012 12:02 PM Flag Inappropriate
I will try some of your suggestions and see what happens. Being comfortable I know is real important and setting a timer might be a good idea. We'll see what happens. I think what is most important is, when that urge to write comes, if possible write.

Peggy Wilmeth Carr @ Wednesday, February 08 2012 7:01 PM Flag Inappropriate
I prefer to call it subconscious inspiration, when I play classical music, while I create.

John Grabowski @ Wednesday, February 08 2012 6:39 PM Flag Inappropriate
What a great use for classical music...as background noise. :-/ This is why a generation has grown up tone deaf--they can't listen to "music" unless it's got "singing" in it.

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