Thursday, 20 November 2014

How To Write Without Distractions

     Finding a place to write

     One of the keys to a successful writing career is for the writer to find a place that they are comfortable writing in. It doesn't matter where, so long as the writer can feel a) relaxed and b) churn out a decent amount of words. Some writers prefer libraries, coffee shops, fast food restaurants, public transport (I used to write poem after poem on the trains when I used to live in the U.K), a room within their own home (Stephen King has a purpose built study where he writes his novels), or even their desk at the office. It doesn't matter where so long as you are comfortable and it's free of distractions. Myself, I prefer to write in my tiny studio apartment in Beijing, not more than a couple of strides away from both my kettle and the bathroom. This way I can provide myself with endless cups of tea, not to mention the odd toilet break, but more than that I just feel so relaxed and stress-free that sitting down in front of the computer to write a novel seems like the most natural thing in the world. If you're not sure where to write at first try a few different places and see what works best for you.

     Keeping it tidy

     Whether your writing space is all clean and spotless or (rather like mine) a bit of a pig sty is up to you. It all depends on what works best for you as a writer to get those words down onto the page. If you find an untidy room to be too much of a distraction then clean it, but if the opposite is true perhaps you should leave the cleaning until after you've finished writing (or if you're like me never).

     Setting Aside a Time-slot 

     Writing is a whole lot easier with less distractions if you set aside definite periods and time-frames in which to write. These can be every day or on a few set days every week, but again rather like your writing room you must be comfortable with the time-slot that you've chosen. There's no point trying to write in the evening if you are a morning person for example. Being comfortable with when you write is often just as important as where you write. Usually, I write in the early mornings (except for Saturdays when I write all day), though my current schedule being what it is I've had to be more accommodating with my time, and so I now write on one or two evenings a week. It's not ideal but I'm comfortable enough with it to keep churning the words out.


     Don't procrastinate. Ever. You can answer all the phone calls and text messages that you want after you've finished writing (I do) and not before. Don't let temptation get the better of you either. It won't take "just a second" for you to check your phone or to go to this or that website. As well as the actual time it takes to go online etc there's also the lost time spent re-checking and re-reading your work as you try to get back to speed and back into some kind of writing rhythm. Nothing's that urgent that it can't wait an hour or two for you to finish writing. Remember that your friends who are sending the texts etc aren't writers and they don't truly know all the hard work and sacrifice that it takes to hammer a novel into shape. They're texting and calling etc precisely because they're NOT writing.

    Final Word

    Writers don't have to be literary recluses tapping away at the computer. You can and should have social lives too (how else are you going to write dialogue but through social interaction?) and you can make that easier by apportioning your writing time appropriately in the proper environment and by eliminating all unnecessary distractions. Writing is as much about finishing a project as it is about the daily grind and if you're spending time surfing the internet and texting your mates then you're NOT writing which ultimately means that it will take longer (if ever) for that great idea of yours to make onto the page and to finally find its way into print.

     If you want to read further of my work check out my book Jack Strong and the Red Giant, about a bullied, 12 year old boy's adventures in space:


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