Dealing With Writing Distractions

By Teen Committee Member Julie Larsen

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So, I’m posting about writing distractions and how to deal with them. I’m not sure how much good I’m going to do with this one. I am really susceptible to distraction. (Whoops). I often get distracted by homework, family, activities that seem more fun than sitting down and writing that scene that I need for the book but don’t want to write, the internet, that new book I got at the library, or thinking that I don’t have time for my story because first I need to write the whole history of the country, draw all the characters in every section of the story I haven’t written yet and draw all their outfits and make a map and read books on how to write a book better because that will help me write the book I’m avoiding. I’m really bad with distractions. But I think this is going to be more about how I deal with them. If these tricks don’t work for you that’s fine too. Everyone has their own way of doing things and my way might not be your way. Don’t be afraid to try and do it your own way.

Alright. So, one of my worst writing distractions is other writing related things. Sometimes I think that I need to draw concept art or find concept art that look like my world. I need to draw a map. I need to draw a detailed description of the countries history. I need to draw the characters face. I need to sketch their clothing. I need to read books to improve my writing such as the writing elements series. I need to look at writing prompts to inspire me. I want to look up writing contests to enter just for fun. These are all great things to do but none of them include actually writing the story.

The first thing I do to avoid these distractions is to ask myself if these things are necessary to the writing of my novel.  Sometimes they are. I’m having trouble visualizing my own world. Those are the times that I draw maps and look at concept art. These give me more ideas on how to describe it to my readers. Sometimes I can’t think of a way to start the scene, so I flip through writing prompts and they inspire me and then I can write the next segment of the book. Sometimes I need the design to see my characters clothing more clearly, so I have a better understanding of how they would move in it. But sometimes (more often then any of the others) I am just trying to waste time, so I don’t sit down at a desk and stare at a wall because my mind won’t sit still long enough to actually write a page. If I decide its important to my writing I do it and ignore my writing for a small portion of the time. If it’s not necessary I force myself to sit down and think about the book and write it.

My second worst distraction is the internet. There’s always something new to learn on the internet. I’m not sure how other writers deal with this distraction. I know a few just have self-control…..

I don’t have self-control. So instead I place my phone in a different room (sometimes charging) and I pull out a notebook. If I write on my computer its easier to get distracted by the Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox icons under my word document. However, now that I have Zen writer and the icons don’t show up under the screen I’m more likely to write on my computer then before.

My next worst distraction is a tie between the next book that I got at the library and my homework. My solution to the homework is a planner. As I said in my bullet journal post (found in past posts). I tend to plan everything in my bullet journal. I have a priority and a tasks list. Everything homework related that has to be done that day for the next day or the day after that are written in the priorities box with an H by it. This gives me motivation to finish these things so that I can get to my writing. The solution to the book distraction is I set aside what I call personal time. This time is used for me time. During these set aside hours, sometimes only 10 minutes or so, I can read a book, do my nails, fix up my hair, try new makeup (this one rarely happens but you never know), or just do whatever I want that’s not school, work, or writing. This eliminates the random reading during writing time because I already have that time set aside.

My last distraction is family or fun activities. This one comes up but not as often as the others. Being an introvert that doesn’t really enjoy too much company and gets really nervous out in public this one only comes up on my particularly confident days which don’t happen as often as I would like them to. Again, this is one of those times that I use my bullet journal. I plan activities and family events and plan my writing times around them so that they don’t stop me from writing my book.

The last piece of advice I would give would be to just start writing. Even if you don’t know what to write next in your novel write something else. Sit down and make a poem, write a short story based off a writing prompt, write whatever comes to your mind even if its just a complaint about your day. Sometimes my actual documents on my computer are interrupted suddenly by a small journal entry about how I hate the music playing in the student center while I’m writing the scene, or that I suddenly got really hungry and am craving such and such. Not letting anything slip past my keys or my pencil is part of how I keep my creativity going.

As Louis L’Amour once said, “Start writing, no matter what. The water doesn’t flow until the faucet is turned on.”

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Hope some of that advice helps if only a little bit. Like is said, if it doesn’t, find your own ways to do things. My ways aren’t the same ways that published authors do things and they might do things differently than each other. Always build your own thoughts but you can’t also build on the thoughts of others. That’s what growth is.

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