Lessons From NaNo ~ Eliminating Distractions

Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you with the second in my series of posts Lessons from Nano. If you missed the first one, you can read it by clicking here. Today’s topic is eliminating distractions.

Mae touched on this in a post last fall, but in order to mWoman at laptop, open notebook and pen at her sideeet your writing goals, you have to put aside anything that is a distraction to you.

I would venture to say the internet and social media is likely the biggest distraction we face. As writers, we’re told me must have a social media presence—Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, to name a few.

But what about our personal blogs? Writing and scheduling posts, as well as reading and responding to reviews, takes time. Television is another issue for some people. Reading can also eat up hours in the day. Not to mention our smartphones.

None of these things in and of themselves are bad. But if we’re going to succeed at meeting our writing goals, we have to set some boundaries.

Before October, I wrote and scheduled my blog posts for the entire month. I initially planned to continue blogging throughout November and had several posts in draft form. However, as the time drew closer, I knew there was no way I’d be able to keep up with all the comments and visits and still meet my word count goal. Therefore, I decided to take the entire month off. The only exception was if I had posts scheduled for Story Empire.

I limited my online prescence. Most of my social media posts were on Instagram. A lot of those were progress reports—five-day writing streak, fifteen-day writing streak, 10K words reached, etc.

Television isn’t a big distraction for me, so that wasn’t a problem. I do most of my writing in the evenings. My husband typically works that shift but he was on vacation a few days during November. When he’s home, that means the TV is on, but I learned I can easily tune it out.

I love to read, but I decided to finish what books I had been reading and not start anything new.

My critique partners all agreed we would not send one another anything during the month. That enabled me to have additional time to write.

I didn’t become a complete hermit. Except for a few days of vacation, I worked my regular schedule. There were also two days in which my husband and I had doctor’s appointments or medical procedures that required one of us to drive the other one.

I lost another evening to attend a fundraiser.  Hubs and I also managed a Sunday afternoon date to see the movie, Midway. Of course, there was the Thanksgiving holiday. If a friend needed to chat or if we needed to discuss something with Story Empire, I made myself available.

Writing is a part of our lives, but it should never be our life. Taking some time away—yes, even a trip to a doctor’s office—helped to refresh my mind. (Sitting in a waiting room is an excellent place for people watching.)

The important thing is to identify the things that distract you most and temporarily remove them. If it’s television, go into another room. Internet? Use an internet blocking program. Your phone? Put it on airplane mode.

You may not need to take an entire month away from blogging and social media, but try staying away for a weekend.

Getting rid of distractions, albeit temporary, is one of the best solutions for reaching your writing goals.

24 thoughts on “Lessons From NaNo ~ Eliminating Distractions

  1. I wrote a post along similar lines last week, Joan, about life being different from a distraction. I wrote 30 000 words during my 2 week break from work over Christmas but since returning to work and my youngest son starting high school the following week, I have needed to focus on a work deadline and on getting my son settled and attending all the work functions. I have only managed about 7 000 words since 6 January but that is okay. My life comes first.

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  2. There are many distractions out there or well, in there. The home is full of them. I actually keep the TV on while writing most times. That background noise is calming. Plus I usually have a sitcom on. So there’s laughter and I don’t know. They give me funny ideas and keep me in a good mood. I also don’t write every day though. I write when I want to write. I still get my work done but I do it when I enjoy it. If you really enjoy what you do, I think you’ll make those minutes count a lot more. Great post and advice!

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  3. Social media is very time-consuming for sure, Joan. It’s a two-edged sword. If we take time off, we are quickly forgotten. But, if we don’t take the time off, we can really get burnt out. I loved what you said about writing being only a part of our lives. Balance is hard to find and even harder to maintain, but necessary. Great post!

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  4. Social media is time consuming for sure. When I think I’ve caught up I find more, but usually let it wait. Sometimes my family gets really talkative on messanger, but they get my attention. TV can take up some time, but its how I wind down. I laughed when you said when your husbands home the TV is on. Same thing here but he’s always off doing something and its blasting…lol. Have a great weekend, Joan.

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  5. Following blogs and social media takes time. I try to ease up on the weekends, but not for my closest friends. I prefer silence, but do have a playlist or two of music I listen to on occasion while writing. The biggest distraction is the 40 hours I sell to keep the wolf away. I still manage to get some writing time, even if it’s sporadic.

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  6. I don’t mind music when I’m working, as long as it’s instrumental. I’ll even put it on for soothing background noise, but I wouldn’t be able to concentrate with the distraction of a TV. Fortunately, I have my own den where I can escape unwanted distractions to write. And I am one of those bloggers who takes every weekend off for me-time and writing time. It’s a huge help!

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  7. I’m with Priscilla. Any background noise at all, even music, reminds me that I’m here at my desk and not where I want to be, which is standing right next to my characters as they tell me what’s going on in their lives. So, noise one distraction I seldom have. Even when Mark is home, he watches tv in the living room, while I write in the family room, with pocket doors pulled closed. (I haven’t watched tv myself since I started writing over six years ago. When I do have spare time, I read.)

    My biggest distraction is the enormous amount of email I get, sometimes 500 a day! I developed a pretty good filing system, so I can go through it fairly quickly, dumping the stuff I don’t need or care about and stashing everything else in various folders where I can find it later. But I still spend too long on the emails I want to answer right away. And that includes checking out new blog posts that are important to me. (Like this one). I’m not going to be able to focus on writing until I finish with that, because it’s important stuff I don’t want to neglect.

    Better Time Management seems to be my only recourse. Just to be clear, I STINK at Time Management! 😦 But I’ve decided to set a limit of 1 hour for handling the most important of my emails, and filing the rest for later. By then, I have a cup of Earl Grey on board and am ready to write. I’m aiming for at least two uninterrupted hours of quality time spent building a loving relationship with my current WIP. These occasional ten-minute meetings for a little canoodling with it are just not working! 😀 With any luck, after two hours of building a future together, we can part company for a bit while I take care of the rest of the day’s business. If being away from each other becomes too painful to bear, perhaps we can sneak in an afternoon rendezvous as well.

    That’s my current plan, anyway. My WIP and I will let you know if it’s working for us. 😀

    Great post, Joan, with some solid ideas. Sharing!

    Liked by 5 people

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