A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Today’s post is about tips for avoiding writing distractions of the sort Dan Smith captured so brilliantly in his blog post last week, which you can read here
Everyone has their own particular writing demons, but below are my tips for avoiding my top five distractions:
I do love telly, and often have to remind myself it doesn’t matter how brilliant the scriptwriters are on my latest Netflix series, they’re not going to write my story for me.
Tip #1 – Turn off the TV and save the new boxset/series as a reward for hitting the latest deadline.
I love my kids (sometimes as much as I love telly), but when I try to combine kids and writing I end up being a bit useless with both. Practically, it’s easy to shut down a laptop, but kids don’t come with an ‘off’ switch.
Tip #2 – Find a way to occupy your kids while you’re writing. You could try trapping them in a playpen, but you’ll need a super-sized version if they’re out of nappies, so it’s probably easiest to look for a regular activity for them. Or perhaps a friend/family member would keep an eye on them in exchange for a similar favour later.
It’s amazing how appealing cleaning becomes when I’m trying to write at home.
Tip #3 – Remember cleanliness and hygiene are pretty new inventions. Not so long ago, people were chucking the contents of their toilets out the window and bathing once a month. Hoovers and dishwashers didn’t even exist when Shakespeare was writing and look how much he got done.
It can be hard to focus on writing when friends offer the temptation of chatting, coffee-drinking and cake-eating.
Tip #4 – Find ways to stop yourself going out. One method is to stay in your pyjamas all day. However, experience has shown this can scare delivery men and embarrass your kids if their friends come round, so my slightly more socially acceptable alternative is a pair of writing-dungarees that should never be seen outside the house.
I’m a sucker for Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Youtube and all things internet. I can waste entire mornings taking quizzes to see which brand of broomstick I’d fall off in Hogwarts, rather than getting on with my manuscript.
Tip #5 – Some writers swear by software like ZenWriter, which helps shut out all computer distractions and allows you to focus on writing. Another solution is to simply disconnect the wifi, perhaps getting someone to hide the router or change the password for the day.
There will never be a world without distractions, but it can help to eliminate a few of the most obvious ones, whether it’s for 15 minutes or for hours at a time. I’d love to hear your tactics for avoiding your own distractions.