Distraction…it’s everywhere around you…all the time. You want to do all the right things with family, friends, the boss, and co-workers. It all takes so much of your time…and your energy.
And you definitely want to write that book or blog. You even have smart goals set, but distraction comes every time you touch your writing project. If I could just catch a break, you say to yourself. But the break doesn’t come.
I have 3 clear writing tips to help you de-clutter your mind and improve writing skills at the same time. Too good to be true? Think again!
Distraction: The Plague of Every Writer
It is not surprising that distraction is the biggest enemy of virtually every writer. It can be summed up in the simple saying: Life happens. Yes, it does.
Life happens to you, too. And while some of that life is great and awesome, a good deal of it is not. Distraction falls out in the form of
• Phone calls, text messages, and social media engagement
• Family, friends, work-related people, etc.
• Emotions hung over without healthy release
• Decisions, stresses, and pressures that go unresolved
• The internal editor, critic, and naysayer always a whisper away
The distractions are many, but this list covers a majority of them. Think about what distracts you the most from your writing. What are they? Recognizing your own areas of vulnerability goes a long way down the road to improving your writing skills.
Very often it is not that writing is so very difficult. More accurately, it is that distraction keeps you from being able to focus on what you’re writing. That is what these writing tips are all about.
De-clutter: The Action That Kills Distraction
The solution to your distraction is to take action against those interruptive forces. Distraction comes from sources either outside or inside your own mind and heart. Wherever the distraction comes from, action is required if you want to move past it.
I sum up this action in one simple word—de-clutter. What does that mean? Very simply, it means to get rid of the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that distraction hangs onto, thus stifling your writing. De-clutter successfully and you will improve writing skills noticeably.
Think about your own writing habits and how you practice writing. Where does your mind get pulled into other things? What are the distractions that jump up during your writing? How do they detract from your project? Do they stop you completely or do you keep writing but at a lower quality than what you desire?
Distraction can be very subtle. Therefore, you take strong actions to defeat it. Rather than give you a long list of detailed actions you could choose from, I opted to give you three main action categories. You decide what you can do in each of these categories to confront, tame, and possibly even destroy the distraction that chases you away from your serious writing desires.
De-clutter Writing Tip #1: Close Access to Your Writing Time
It’s one thing to joke about being able to walk and chew gum at the same time. It’s quite another thing to try to do serious writing while doing something else at the same time. Writing demands focus, among other things. Distraction is the opposite of focus.
Therefore, choose a quiet, peaceful location to do your writing. If indoors around others, try to write where you can close a door. Wherever you are, turn off your phone and any other device that can possibly allow someone to bother you. Don’t even think of opening your email or social media until you are finished.
If you have a pet who thinks you can’t write alone, find a way to control their ability to distract you. My cat, Robin, is my best pet pal, and she spends time with me as I write most of the time. Usually, she curls up on her perch at the window or snoozes on her little bed on the corner of my desk. I work for hours without a peep from her.
But as much as I love her, there are times when she thinks she has to lie on my desk right beside me and keep her chin on the back of my left hand as I try to type! That might make for a fun pic, but it adds nothing but distraction to my writing time. She doesn’t like it much, but if she won’t move to one of her designated spots, I “invite” her to leave the room.
De-clutter Writing Tip #2: Move, Relax, Breathe
I practice these three writing tips in one all the time! The first one, move, has more than one meaning. Move, as in move your body. Exercise at some level. A simple walk or some time at your favorite exercise is so very effective at moving off that heavy, frustrated energy that becomes part of distraction. Before you begin to write get out there and move!
Besides moving your body, there is a need to mentally and emotionally. What thoughts, feelings, and decisions are you allowing to hang over your head? What unfinished internal business are you putting up with right now? Make the decision to move it out before you write.
What does that even look like? I’m glad you asked! It looks like different things, depending on what your stuff looks like. It can mean making a decision in some area. If you don’t know what the ultimate decision should be, simply make a decision to make a final decision later. That simple step frees your mind to drop it and pick up your writing.
It might also look like forgiving someone who hurt or offended you. It might look like accepting the fact that you can’t change and control everything everywhere, so you let it be. Realizing what is truly an issue and what is just an offense and making a pro-active decision about it takes you miles down the road into peace!
Writing while tense, stressed, or otherwise off balance is like trying to cut tall grass in the rain. You might get the job done, but you won’t be happy with the end results. Relax! Shake off the day before you start to write. Even if you write first thing in the morning like I sometimes do, it is still beneficial to stretch, get into some comfy clothes, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and maybe put on some soft music first.
A relaxed mind is a happy mind and a happy mind is a creative mind. Be kind to the writer that is you. Let the cares of the day slide off so you can think and feel your writing project. This improves the flow of your writing so much.
Last, but not least, is to just breathe. Is that really a writing tip? I hear you ask, and yes, it is. Taking the time to do some conscious breathing, aware of your deep inhale and exhale, helps you let go of all the junk we’ve talked about here.
Breathing like this grounds you and brings you into focus so you can dive into your writing time with fresh energy and creativity. Even during the course of your writing session, if you feel your mind slipping out of focus, take a few moments to just close your eyes and consciously breathe deeply for a few breaths. It is a great help in extending your productive writing time.
De-clutter Writing Tip #3: Free Writing
If you’ve followed me a bit, you know that I am a firm believer in the merits of free writing. This is another look into how this practice can and will improve your writing skills. Check out my blog post on this topic.
Free writing is a great way to identify, give voice to, and break up that distraction problem. Before you start writing on your book, blog, or other project, take 10-15 minutes and do some free writing. Don’t think about what you’re writing; just go fast and furious, writing down anything and everything that comes into your mind. Skip the punctuation, the grammar, all the technical elements that usually govern you. Just write.
What come out of your pen are those very distractions we’re talking about. Why? Because they are taking up most of the room in your thought life! No wonder you struggle to write your project. Your mind is a sponge soaking up all the stagnant thoughts, feelings, and ideas left lying around unattended. Free writing wrings out the sponge, leaving it able to pull up, grasp, and convey the thoughts and intents of your writing project.
When your free writing session is over, toss the pages into the trash or shredder and move on. This writing tip will serve you well every time you use it.
De-clutter Improves Writing Skills
1. Brings clarity of thought
2. Sharpens focus
3. Allows free flow of relevant ideas
These are three main ways that de-cluttering improves writing skills in anybody who will take action. These are broad areas of writing improvement that will manifest in various ways for different writers. The important thing is that de-cluttering works.
De-clutter: The Solution for You
There you have it. The distractions that hold you captive and keep you from starting or completing your writing projects are just a decision away from being gone.
Will you put these three simple writing tips to work to improve your writing skills and destroy your distractions? Or will you just keep plodding along accomplishing little or nothing of your writing dream? The decision is yours. Come on! Your whole writing future is waiting!
Thank you & God Bless
If you are serious about writing your book or blog, but don’t think you can do it or don’t know where to start, contact me. I’d love to chat with you!