Friday, June 20, 2014

Distract yourself from distractions

Distractions are a writer’s kryptonite. (Well, that and bad writing, but that's another post for another day.) Distractions have been the bane of a writer’s existence since time immemorial. How can you avoid them and keep yourself on track?

Below are a handful of great ways to fix your self-inflicted road blocks:

  1. ​Disable the internet
    The vast majority of today's distractions require a stable wi-fi connection. So turn it off, unhook it, or go to your grandma’s house where wi-fi doesn't exist yet. Do whatever you have to do to turn your laptop into a typewriter.
  2. Eat
    Food does the job of distracting pretty well too, usually taking over once the wi-fi's dead. So embrace it! Feast, and when you can feast no more, write.
  3. ​Go for a walk
    At this point you might want to consider walking off all the food you just ate; plus a change of scenery is sometimes what you always need. Be sure to bring a notebook with you to see if you can solve that lackluster plot point while you're at it, but don't set your hopes too high. The walk wasn't a failure if you didn't manage to make some miraculous writing strides, too.
  4. ​Talk to friends​
    Writer friends, that is. If you don't have any, you should probably make it a priority to get some. Many, many character arcs and plot twists can be fixed with the help of a strong writing community. Normal friends work too, once in a while; most don't want to hear about why you hate your main character, but use the conversation as a chance to get your mind off your story. You might need that more than you think.
  5. Shower
    Some of the best ideas come to you in the shower, it’s a known fact. Also, it never hurts to be clean.
  6. ​Read (your definition of) excellent writing
    Depending on who you are, this can either help or hurt you. It might inspire you to get back on track and write something brilliant, or you might become so depressed you consider deleting your entire manuscript. So proceed with caution on this one.
  7. ​Read (your definition of) horrible writing
    Such a useful exercise! You can learn a lot from bad writing of course, but you will be so inspired after reading a terrible chapter in a should-have-never-been-published book. If that "author" can do it, you certainly can.
  8. ​Reward yourself
    For every page that you write, reward yourself with reading a blog post or a few minutes on a social media site of your choosing. Give yourself something to write towards, aside from a word count. 
  9. Skip the scene you're writing and work on a fun one instead

    Of course, if you do this too often, you'll be stuck with all the boring ones at the end—but you can deal with that then. Just remember that the book doesn't necessarily have to be written to follow the table of contents. Write something crazy: Send your characters to the zoo, then have a lion eat the one you love most. You can always delete the scene later—but maybe it will be just the stroke of brilliance you were looking for. And it will get you out of your rut.
  10. Close your document and tell yourself you're done for the day
    Sometimes you just can't force it—and that's okay. You'll be a writer again tomorrow, and hopefully things will work out better then.

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