I keep getting distracted

by Maddie

Question: Okay so I really love writing, it is my dream to become an author. Right now I am writing a story and I have all the ideas for it in my head but when I start writing, I write a little bit and then I get distracted by something and I am barely getting anything done. I was wondering if you had any tips on how not to get distracted.

Answer: Every writer needs to master the skill of sitting in a chair and working without letting distractions interfere.

These days it's harder than ever, thanks to technology, but here are some suggestions.

First, the easy part...

1. Choose a place where you can be alone to write. For some people, a quiet room in your home works. For others, a public place such as a library works, so long as you don't run into anyone you know.

2. Set a time period when you will not be disturbed. Make sure everyone knows to leave you alone. Anywhere from one to four hours can work. Ideally, you should have the same writing time each day.

3. Eliminate all electronic distractions. Turn off your cellphone, TV, etc. Disconnect from the Internet. Make sure that messaging, email, phone calls etc. can't interrupt you.

Now the trickier part...

You want to get yourself into the ideal emotional state to write. This is a state where you are relaxed, focused, and engaged fully with the story you are writing.

If you are bored or otherwise not emotionally engaged, you will automatically look for something to distract yourself with.

You want the same level of focus a person has when they are playing a video game -- except that video games basically work on one emotional level (anxiety). When writing, you want to be just as emotionally involved in and focused on your story. It's almost like a hypnotic state.

Some writers are very good at being able to enter this state at will. Others struggle with it.

In the beginning, you may have to push yourself into the right state of mind. But if you write regularly, you will come to see it as something to look forward to and it will become easier. Again, it helps if you write at the same time each day.

One final tip: I mentioned above that you want to be relaxed. That doesn't mean napping. It means you have to set aside any anxiety you may have. You want the writing process to be fun. So don't let yourself fall into self-criticism as you write. Don't demand that everything you write be perfect. Making it perfect is what you do when revising. First drafts should just be about having fun with the story.

Best of luck.

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