Sitting down to write is the first step. The second is actually writing, and continuing to write until you’re done. Every writer knows that as soon as you sit down to write, focus tries to allude you. Some days it’s easier than others to hang onto, but here are four things I avoid when I write.
Mirrors. I know I sound incredibly vain by saying this, but I will. When I’m trying to focus, I can NOT be in sight of a mirror. Depending on my mood, I either can’t stop looking at myself or can’t stop criticizing myself. With the second, I feel the urge to workout. And when I get the urge to workout, nothing should stand in my way because how often does that happen? No. No. No. Exercise is not an acceptable form of procrastination. Figuring out if I look cute in my outfit is not an acceptable form of procrastination. Neither is trying to name the exact shade of blue of my eyes. No mirrors. I can always comment on what I see in the mirror, and that’s not what writing time is for.
Food. Personally, I can’t write while I’m eating. I don’t know if I love food too much, or if I’m a messy eater, or if it’s because I eat out of boredom instead of only when I’m hungry. Either way, it distracts me from anything I’m trying to focus on. It’s also easy to justify. I need food to live. If I don’t eat, I’ll die. Therefore, I should eat the food. NOPE. I purposefully schedule breakfast before or after I write, or when I’m done with my serious writing and can afford to only give it half effort. If I want to give 100% of my attention to something, I can’t be eating too.
Temperature Changes. I know that I like to be a little warmer rather than a little cooler. When I am too cold, all I can think about is which limb is going to go numb and fall off first. In the sixty-eight degree weather I enjoy here in LA, it’s a real risk. Usually I write outside, so I come prepared by wearing layers or looking up the temperature ahead of time. When my writing space goes from warm to cold, it messes with my head and screws up concentration. It’s little and sort of silly, but picking places that stay the same temperature helps me stay focused.
The Internet. This one I sort of consider obvious. Phone=distraction. Internet=distraction. Everyone knows that. I write on my computer, so I have the internet disabled when I’m working. At coffee shops, I don’t even bother connecting to the internet. Writing does not require being plugged in to the online world. The ONLY reason I go online when I write (in which case I go on my phone, not my laptop) is to look up synonyms because I have the bad habit of not being able to remember certain words when I want them. The web has so many distractions waiting. Even ads are distracting. Don’t do it. It will all be there when you’re done.
Don’t make focusing harder on yourself. Find the things that are your biggest distractions and avoid them like the plague. If you don’t have distractions tempting you, it saves you half the battle of trying to focus.