With so many distractions, how do you make time to write?

Ever find yourself getting distracted when you’re supposed to be writing? I’ve been having this problem a lot lately. I have a deadline in May for a book manuscript, and I’m not making my usual progress.

For most of my books, I would come to my office each morning and try to write for a couple of hours. My target was about 500 words per day. If I could achieve that, I could write my book in five to six months.

Now I find I cannot achieve that daily rhythm that fuels me through a project. Why, you ask? Because of following Twitter and Facebook, reading and responding to email and text messages, visiting websites, tending to other responsibilities at work and more. What now feels like a swamp of quicksand is grabbing me and keeping from my franchise — which is writing.

In this week’s career chat, I talked about how to focus on the business and pleasure of writing. I shared tips and strategies that have worked for me in the past, and tapped into the audience for ideas as well. You can replay the chat here:

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  • http://twitter.com/MSvairini M. Svairini

    Interesting chat!  Thanks Mallory for asking me to chime in.  It’s an ongoing issue for sure…

    Here’s what I find helpful … ymmv

    1. Write in the middle of the night when fewer people are up and fewer
    emails/tweets/etc come in.

    2.  Use free software/shareware to turn off the wifi for a certain
    amount of time (Freedom, for Mac users)  or to turn off certain
    websites for a certain amount of time (SelfControl, for Mac users).
    There are PC versions too.

    3.  Write with other people who are actually writing (not checking
    email etc) — for “sprints” or blocks of time — can do this in
    person, over the phone, or virtually over gchat/Skype/etc.

    4.  Set very limited goals for short 10-minute writing periods, i.e.
    “write the part about xx” or “freewrite about what I really want to do
    with this story” or “list the things that should really be part of
    this and then rank them by importance.”  Don’t try to tackle the whole
    beast at once.

    5.  Work on a writing project for a short period immediately before
    and then immediately after something else, i.e. a boring meeting, a
    walk, lunch, nap, even a good night’s sleep.  Before:  Make a quick
    list of the problem areas / needs / questions I have about the
    project.  During:  It will naturally cogitate in the back of my brain
    during the “non writing” time.  After:  Set aside a block of time,
    20-30 minutes, to write through the new revelations/perspectives.

    6.  Remember I don’t do emergency neurosurgery.  No one dies if I let
    an email sit for half an hour or … gasp … more!
    (Well, ok, a little part of me dies inside, but that’s ok.  It’s the OCD part anyway.)Good luck everyone!Minal HajratwalaWriter … & writing coach!


  • anjarxmon

    hemmmbbb, nice info ^^ always imagine ^^