The next time you put your fingers on the keyboard to bang out your outline or the first sentence of a novel, pay attention to the things that distract you. Will you need to leave in ten minutes to meet someone for dinner? Will the kids be home in half an hour?
There’s never enough time to write uninhibited prose. But this can still work for you. In fact, knowing that my time is rationed—yet scheduled—improves my focus when I do write.
If writing is important to you, I highly recommend examining your habits. Schedule your writing times like you would schedule an appointment—and stick to it. You need time to get your mind focused on the words, and knowing that something could interrupt you at any moment hinders your progress. We all love the creative side of writing, but there’s a structured side as well.
Consider also the ambient sounds, the distractions on your computer (e.g., games, social networking, music), and visual stimuli. Some people do well with iTunes blaring, Twitter spitting out updates, and a window to stare out. Some don’t. Examine how they affect you and make adjustments as needed.
How’s your time management? Here are some factors to consider:
- Do you feel rushed when writing?
- What can you do to schedule more time to the craft you love?
- Could you drop something (e.g., a TV show) to carve out some uninterrupted time?
- Does discomfort lead to frequent stretch breaks and wasted time? Can you change your posture or seating?
- Is that great view really causing more distraction than generating ideas?
The Writer’s Checkup
Read the intro for background.
- Time Management
- Style and Voice