Writing takes a level of endurance, dedication and commitment. It is often a solitary occupation that requires discipline and focus. Distractions come ten to the dozen and need to be avoided if you are to optimise your writing time. Your computer and phone, while great tools of the trade, can also lure you away from your writing.
- Internet – is great for research, but research is a never-ending endeavour that can suck you in to a quest for knowledge – far more knowledge than you need to complete whatever task actually requires your attention.
Tip #1: Turn off the Internet while you are writing. This way you will not be tempted to check your email or Google anything. Do your research before you write, this way you will already have everything you need to complete your task. I usually give myself a time allocation for research – this ensures that I don’t spend more time than is needed in sourcing far too much information. If you come across something you need to know more about during your writing phase, make note of that and keep writing – you can fill that in later.
- Social media – is a fantastic way to stay connected and keep abreast of issues, however, it can be a real time-drain. I allocate myself time to engage with social media – in the morning over breakfast works for me, getting it out of the way before I start my writing day.
Tip #2: Give yourself a set time to engage with social media and turn the Internet off while you are writing – this includes all of your connected devices, phone, kindle, table, etc.
- Lack of routine – one of the great things about working freelance is that I get to choose my own hours. This lack of restrictions can create a false sense of freedom that can be demotivating. It doesn’t matter if you work best during the day or night, the key is to put in the hours required. Developing a writing routine can not only ensure you put the hours in, but also can be the motivating factor that makes these hours more productive.
Tip #3: Develop a writing routine. Schedule your writing time – this will help you find the best distraction free time. Divide your time between the various tasks you need to complete – take short breaks between each chunk of time making sure you are not sitting at your computer for hours on end. Diarising these tasks will keep you on track. I start my day with my own creative writing, moving on to freelance work and switching between different types of tasks to both give myself breaks and keep my mind fresh.
- Loneliness – writing is often a solitary task. This can be heaven sent ‘you’ time in an otherwise busy day or can be long days at home alone if you are working freelance.
Tip #4: Turn off your phones and get out of the house. If you are constantly interrupted by phone calls – tell people you are in writing mode and turn off your phones. If you are freelancing, find a quiet spot in your local library to work – this will get you out of the house and provide an often needed change of scene. Developing a schedule can help here also, ensuring you have enough time for friends and family, important calls and time away from your desk.
- Editing and formatting – sometimes the distraction is a grammatical or an aesthetic one – you edit and format your work as you go.
Tip #5: Save the editing and formatting until last. There are many distraction free writing apps you can find with a quick Google search, but it can be as simple as hiding the toolbar in Word to save you from the temptation of underlining a word here, bolding a word there. Get into the habit of not proofreading or editing your work until the writing is finished. I chunk same tasks together. I check my emails at certain times rather than flipping back and forth to my email throughout the day – this saves heaps of time. Similarly, I complete the writing before proofreading, editing, formatting – focus on each individual task enables me to bring more focus to that task. It is worth noting that it can be incredibly difficult to proofread and edit your own writing. If you find this to be the case, it is certainly worth hiring a professional to do these tasks for you. This will ensure a high standard of proofreading and editing, and will have the added benefit of freeing you up to do more writing.
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To find out how I can help you refine and fine tune your writing, visit my website A Worded Life.
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