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7 Ways to Stop Feeling Distracted and Start Writing What You Want to Write

It’s so easy to get distracted, especially when you’re spending a lot of time in the online world.  What kind of things can you do to stop yourself from getting distracted, and start making time for your writing?

Here are some of techniques and approaches that I use:

1. Allow yourself time to revel in the new

Indulge your need to scan, browse and connect. But don’t try and do it at the same time as you’re creating (flowing, focused)

2. Make deliberate choices to limit what’s incoming

Bearing in mind that some ‘distractions’ expand our world… but also knowing that too many distractions limit what we can make and do…  we need to get more discerning as to what to keep and what to filter.

3. Experiment with ways to reduce environmental distractions

And know what works for you

4. Move towards what motivates you

If focus doesn’t turn you on, find what does.  Flow, creativity, attention, passion… find it, and go for it.

5. Be honest about what distractions let you do

That doesn’t mean be hard on yourself.  It means: be honest.  At some level, distractions and busy-ness keep us safely in our comfort zones.  Exploring what that means for you might be more fruitful than trying to zap distractions, or criticising yourself for not being able to.

6. Journal when you’re stuck

Write your way through your stuckness.  How it feels to be distracted and too scatttered to write.  Honestly, without judgement.  Just write.  And see what happens.

7. Sit down and write

The modern world is the modern world.  It is noisy, busy, confusing, stressful, attention-grabbing, wonderful, challenging, exciting, demanding, intriguing.  The perfect system to make better sense of it will never be found.

We still hold a solution in our hands: just sit down and write.



I started off this series in a search for some resources that would help in the quest to cut distractions. Here are some articles and other resources I found that you might find useful

The Hidden Art of Achieving Creative Flow - Zen Habits

How to Reclaim Your Attention - Zen Habits

Incoming! - Seth Godin

The Reason You’re Stuck - Seth Godin writing at Zen Habits

But also read - as a follow up to that post from Seth Godin on the Lizard Brain - Barbara Sher on this point:

I Disagree with Seth Godin about Genius and Lizard Brain

10 Things to Start and One Thing to Stop (getting into flow) - Confident Writing

Lateral Action: Tips and Resources on productivity for creative people

Focus Manifesto: an ebook that is being drafted by Leo Babauta from Zen Habits.

(The last one looked interesting but I have to confess… I couldn’t focus enough to read all of it…)

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  1. Alex Fayle says:

    I clear out my distractions by not writing at home. If I’m out of the house I find myself much more focused. But in the end the only point that matter is #7 - sit down and write.
    .-= Alex Fayle´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

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  3. sundar says:

    We still hold a solution in our hands: just sit down and write.

    That’s absolutely correct….Thanks for this post

  4. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Alex hello, it’s good to see you :-) Re your point… indeed ;-)

    sundar thanks - glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Joanna - I really needed this. I can be distracted by a flea on the window, if Im really trying to avoid something. I think I really need to think about point 5 and be honest with myself about why I’m doing this. As you mentioned - I think it has a lot to do with comfort levels.

  6. Leslie A. Joy says:

    Love the tip about being honest about your distractions. I found once I sat down and thought about what my distractions were and was actually honest about it, it became much easier to overcome them.
    .-= Leslie A. Joy´s last blog ..Expanding Kindness and Relationships Through Twitter =-.

  7. Williams says:

    I agree with Alex. Writing at home is a MAJOR distraction, especially if you make the bulk of your money from home, like I do. I run a content writing business and it can be fustrating to say the least. The good thing is that I don’t have to come up with original peices as the client tells me exactly what to write. I don’t deal with publishers because they are too picky for their own goods. If i was a publisher, I would just be happy with anything that comes my way since there are so many publishing companies out there.


  8. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Hi Cath it’s good to see you back. I know what you mean about the flea - we can pick anything to be distracted by if it’s serving us in some way. Once we figure that out we can decide what to do about it - including looking at the flea if we need to ;-)

    Leslie hello, glad you liked that tip… learning to be honest with ourselves can be challenging but like you say it’s much easier to work out what we want to do if we do manage that step

    Williams indeed, working from home can be majorly distracting, but the time saved on commuting still more than makes up for it :-)

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