He swept in through the front door, shirt torn as lightning flashed – hang on, my twitter stream’s buzzing, OH MY GOODNESS IT’S A CAT!!!
If that sounds like your writing process, then it might be time to get some tools for distraction free writing.
I usually write between 4-8 hours per week, mostly on Fridays. As a freelancer, I know how hard it is to turn off and concentrate on your work. In my early twenties I struggled a lot with getting distracted if I had a day at home to work; there was always the bathroom to be cleaned, a cake to be baked… these days our phones and digital media are the number one distraction from writing in solid blocks. I really struggle to get into a story or my creative work if I am constantly distracted, as I need to focus. Writing has been shown to access parts of the brain that are almost like getting into a trance, and so it’s hard to write well if your phone and computer are telling you LOOK HERE! NOW PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEE!!!!!
Quite frankly, modern technology needs to be disciplined like a naughty attention-seeking two year old. Here are some tools for cutting out the voice of technology.
The humble Word has distraction free writing mode. Did you know that? This is what my screen looks like when I’m writing in Word. If you have the latest version of Word, click in the top right hand corner where there’s a box with an arrow. Click on auto-hide the ribbon. Done.
If you can’t be trusted even with a minimalist Word display, a tool like OmmWriter might be good for you. It pares down the writing experience even more, with beautiful backgrounds and calming music.
My writing friend Jackie got me onto the idea of listening to ambient sounds when writing. I’ve started using Ambio recently to focus my work especially when writing. I find it hard to listen to music, because it starts to affect the story, but ambient sounds such as ocean waves and light rain provide calming sound without distraction.
QualityTime is another app I’ve recently discovered which monitors how much time you spend flicking through your phone. It enables you to see where you’re spending your time, and also allows you to create “breaks” that block you accessing your apps. I often do this if I have to write or read for 2 hour blocks.
The Off Button
The easiest and cheapest solution to distraction free writing is to turn your phone off! Did you know phones have this handy button, usually on the side, which can disable the power access to your device? Amazing. And as for the computer, there is this incredible invention called paper which can record all your thoughts and dreams with a stylus. What a world we live in! (Forgive my sarcasm, but we often forget that turning off things is an option. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.).