Writing Distraction Solutions

By: Emily Eileen Moreshead and Erin Rose Hennessy

As writers, nothing feels better then when the pen flows easily on the page (or the words on the keyboard). But sometimes we hit that proverbial wall – writer’s block. And sometimes it isn’t simply not having ideas – sometimes there are other things distracting us from our best written work. We decided to take a few moments today to talk about our top writing distractions and our solutions for restoring focus.

Erin: One of my top reasons for being distracted is anxiety or worry about something else that is currently happening. If I had a bad day at work, or I’m dealing with health insurance woes, or something else is bothering me, I find it difficult to stay focused on my writing and on the current story we are creating. One of the things that helps me with this is changing gears. Writing something cute and fluffy for awhile and then going back to the current story when I’m ready. Other things that help is taking a short break and doing something relaxing or just finding a friend to talk out my frustrations and concerns with until I’m ready to get back to the writing board.

Emily: Distractions for me often occur when I’m trying to do a million and one things at once, trying to get so much done in a short time. I’m often eating, rinsing dishes, doing laundry, and writing all at once. It helps to try to get centered, find time alone if even for a few moments after work.

Erin: Television shows are a double-edged sword for me. On one hand, they are a major source of creativity, imagination, and a calming background presence while writing. I’m currently listening to Friends on TV as I write this and it’s nice to have the background noise. On the flip side, I can be very distracted by brand new episodes I haven’t seen before and then all of a sudden poor Emily has been waiting twenty minutes for me to send my next line. My solution to this is to only put on television shows I have seen before while I am writing – Friends, Gilmore Girls, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are common choices. Brand new viewings are when I actually am focusing on watching the TV and nothing else.

Emily: Work is most often a distratcion for me because I worry about the unread emails that come in just after I leave, I often get called even when I leave well past the time I’m supposed to to talk about the chaos that is going on after I left or if someone can’t figure anything out in my absence. And it annoys me to no end when I get texted after hours for non-urgent matters. I know I need to let go but it doesn’t help when I don’t feel like I am allowed to be away from the office.

Erin: I’m a perfectionist at heart, so it also can distract me when something needs to be done or isn’t completed before I sit down to write. I feel like I have to have everything finished and ready for the next day before I sit down to write, and if I’m forced to stay late at work or something else comes up, I can be distracted at writing time. One of the ways I handle this is to try to stick to my after-work routine as much as possible, so that when writing time comes, I’m ready. If I need more time, I let Emily know, or make a deal with myself that I can do 10 more minutes and then it will be okay until the next day.

Emily: I have to 100% agree with Erin’s perfectionism by the way; I get it! As much as I hate to use aging as a distraction it is sometimes relevant because if I’m having pain in my body or not feeling well, it is difficult to keep the concentration on my writing. I may be blowing my nose, scratching my itchy-ridden skin, or massaging muscle cramps that routinely come out of nowhere! (It’s stress I know!) What helps for me is a calming coffee or a short snack break where I can try to keep myself calm and centered.

As all writers everywhere understand – it’s easy to get distracted. It’s important to remember that it’s normal and when you find your own ways to help yourself, you’ll be writing again in no time. Feel free to share your common distractions and helpful tips in the comments!

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