Many writers dream of writing early in the morning or late at night with a hot cup of coffee and zero distractions in sight. They’re locked in, focused, and only worried about their story, while the rest of the world is sleeping.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to write in the morning or at night. Some people have to write on the train to and from work, while others fit their writing time in at lunch or whenever an opening appears.
All writers deal with distractions. Some are avoidable (a roommate blaring the TV). Some aren’t (your kids).
No matter what your situation might be and no matter what time of day you fit in your writing and no matter what you’re writing about, from high-end informational spinal surgery articles to a memoir, below is a list of ways to avoid distractions while you write.
70 percent of people feel distracted at work—don’t let interferences spill over to your writing time.
Purchase noise-canceling headphones
Noise-canceling headphones won’t stop people from coming into your room (such as your kids or that roommate we were talking about earlier), but they can block out a lot of noise.
If you can’t listen to music and write at the same time, then try listening to ambient noise. If that doesn’t work, then activating your noise-canceling headphones will still help to block out noise that could turn into a distraction.
Write when everyone else is sleeping or away
If you have the schedule to do it, then you can eliminate all human interaction and distractions by writing when everyone is sleeping, which tends to be early in the morning or late at night but is different for everyone.
Social media tends to be less of a distraction when all of your friends and family members are sleeping, as does unwanted texts and phone calls.
Whatever you do, don’t check your phone or turn on the TV
Cell phone addiction is a real thing. One text could lead to you spending minutes (or even hours) on other apps. When it’s time to write, the best thing you can do for your focus and productivity is either turn your phone off or kick it into do-not-disturb mode.
Staying in the technology department, you shouldn’t watch TV while you write because it’s virtually impossible to comprehend everything on the TV and give your writing your full attention at the same time.
Write at a coffee shop or library
Some people can’t focus in their home. Others want to separate home and work life as much as possible. As a result, many people go to coffee shops and libraries to work.
While new destinations can help to change up your environment and spur creativity, they can also be distracting because there’s so much going on at coffee shops and libraries. While new environments away from home work for some people, we encourage noise-canceling headphones just in case.
Tell people when you’re going to write
If you treat your writing seriously, then other people will as well. Having scheduled writing times can help you build good writing habits.
Before you start writing, tell your roommates, family members, or whomever you live with to not disturb you during this block of time.
Respect your time, and others will follow suit.
Create a good writing atmosphere when working from home
Everyone thrives off of different writing atmospheres and settings. A desk filled with clutter could be a stressor for one person and a creative goldmine for the next. Some people like to have little gadgets, motivational quotes, and pictures on and near their desks, while others perfer to work in a spotless space that only features a computer.
The key is figuring out what you want and need in a writing space and creating it.
Close all unnecessary browsers, apps, and tabs
If you don’t need it for your current writing project, then close it. Emails, tabs, browsers, notifications, and apps pull you away from your work, and it can be hard to get back into the zone after that.
According to Harvard Business Review, not only are people distracted every 40 seconds while they’re working, but it can take more than 20 minutes to refocus.
You can’t control the rest of the world, but you can control your writing space by closing all unnecessary programs. When it’s time to write, whether it be for 30 minutes or six hours, write.
After you finish your session, you can call your friends, head to your favorite liquor store, and celebrate your accomplishments. Protect your writing time by eliminating distractions with the tips above.