A Guide to Uninterrupted Writing

Minimizing and Eliminating Distractions

No matter what your niche is or how experienced you are as a writer, you’ve probably come to realize that dealing with distractions comes with the job. Your ability to complete a piece of writing is highly dependent on how well you can block out things going on around you to focus and just write.

Some distractions will always be out there, swirling around you and constantly grappling for your attention. Others come and go. What you do to minimize or even eliminate those distractions altogether will play a big role in how productive you can be and how stressful writing is for you.

Remember, writing should be fun! To help you keep that in mind, here’s our Guide to Uninterrupted Writing. We hope you can use these tips right away and maybe even have a little fun along the way.

Downloadable Versions:
WMV Format     MOV Format     MV4 Format     MP3 Format

Eliminating Distractions

  • Control Your Environment – Whether you’re at home or out in public, pick a quiet setting where you know you can be productive. In your own home or living space, pick a room that’s semi-private and used sparingly by others. Out in public, look for a quiet area where there aren’t a lot of other people. Also, control your environment in cyberspace by closing down any browser windows or programs that aren’t absolutely essential to your writing. It’s really easy to lose track of the time on the Internet, so avoid those time-wasting programs.
     
  • Use Plain Text Editor or Pen & Paper – You can simplify your writing experience even more by using a plain text editor, like EditPlus or NoteTab to get your thoughts down. Word processing programs are great for all of their features and tools, but it can get distracting trying to figure out what each particular tool does. Using a plain text editor will help you focus on what matters most – the words.
     
    If you’re still struggling with distractions, try to get away from the Internet altogether by writing the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper.
     
  • Turn Off Device Notification Alarms – Now, on the other hand, when you need to be on the Internet for research purposes, you can keep your productivity up by turning off all program notification alarms. That includes instant messenger, cell phones, push notifications and the like. Think about it, you won’t be able to focus on writing if your wife keeps texting you about tonight’s tuna casserole, or you’re getting Facebook notifications from your friend ranting about his sports team. Turn off the notifications on these devices so they aren’t constantly beeping and dinging at you.

Now, we understand that sometimes you can’t get away from every distraction. In those cases, there are a few methods to at least minimize those distractions so they waste a little less of your time.

Minimizing Distractions

  • Shut Out Outside Noises – Wear headphones or earplugs to reduce outside noise. Put on some music to block out the rest of the world. At first, the music will drown out the other noises around you, but eventually even the music seems to fade so you can focus on writing.
     
  • Minimize Clutter on Your Desk – Desktop knick-knacks may be fun to play with but they can be distracting and consequently waste a lot of your time. Tidy up your work area before you use it and make sure you clean it regularly.
     
  • Write an Outline – No matter what type of distraction you encounter, you can quickly get back on task by pre-writing an outline. When you get distracted you can just consult the outline to see what you were in the middle of explaining and what you planned on writing about next.

Remember that distractions are a part of life, but they don’t have to control your life. Take these tips and apply them to your next writing session.

For your own reference, here’s our downloadable Guide to Uninterrupted Writing (PDF) [1.3 MB] so you can take the info from the video with you on-the-go as a reminder of how to keep distractions out of your writing sessions.

What other ways do you deal with article writing distractions? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

40 Comments »


1
Ludwik Kowalski writes:

Thank you for very wise suggestions.

Ludwik Kowalski

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 9:31 AM

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2
Wolfgang writes:

Thank you for this article, I do suffer distractions and from now on I am going to use a outline for my next article. I enjoyed the video too, but it was a bit of a distraction.

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 9:31 AM

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3
Karen writes:

Writing an outline sounds like a very good idea. You can stop and continue anytime by just checking out the outline again. Thanks.

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 9:44 AM

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4
Meggin McIntosh writes:

Mindmapping works even better for me than outlining. That helps me to refocus and have direction.

Thanks for the article :)

Meggin

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 10:12 AM

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5
tinksmagic writes:

Great article and video. I’m often a victim to distractions and have found that writing an outline first helps me a lot as well as setting a timer to get more focused on what I am to be doing as opposed to allowing myself to get distracted.

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 11:03 AM

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6
Louise writes:

This is really great advice. There are so many new ways (electronic and other) to keep us from accomplishing what we need to do. Thanks for the reminder and great tips.

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 11:17 AM

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7
Earl writes:

Yes, distractions are a pain. Background music does not work for me,it distracts me,I like quiet.

I do think that an outline is a great idea and I am going to utilize this.

Thanks Marc for the great tips.

Earl

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 11:56 AM

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8
Kris Varma writes:

I use a combination of techniques to plan including mind mapping and using music to reduce distractions. I also use an outline to write and this makes it easier.

Thanks for the tips.

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 12:49 PM

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9

Marc,

Such great advice, especially about using the pen. Ninety five percent of the time I begin my articles that way.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and The Right To Write (and a gazillion other books), is a big advocate of this method. There is something really juicy about it.

Hey, whatever works to honor our efforts.

Thanks again for helping us out.

MJ

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 3:31 PM

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10
M Francis writes:

Distractions are what keep us working 24/7. Writing an outline is definitely a good idea for staying focused if you have many distractions.

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 5:28 PM

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11
Ann writes:

Great tips, and I love the format of the video – must learn how to put those special effects into videos. Flying social media logos – great!
Your tips are a great reminder.
Thank you!

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 6:03 PM

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12

Another great video, Mark. You make it fun to get these helpful suggestions regularly. For me, the phone ringing is the biggest distraction. But when I turn it off, I often forget to turn it back on and may miss potential new clients’ calls. I have to juggle the benefit of eliminating the distractions or allowing it and getting right back in the flow of writing.

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 7:37 PM

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13
Lalitha Brahma writes:

Great tips. I love the way you have explained. I would add, one more-
“Block a certain time of the day exclusively for writing”
It helps in staying focused.

Comment provided June 6, 2011 at 8:36 PM

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I agree, Lalitha – blocking a time for priority articles works best for me. And since my productivity is highest early morning, this tip frees up a lot of my work time so I am less stressed abt other tasks

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14

Good quiet environment is especially important for writing.

Comment provided June 7, 2011 at 2:02 AM

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15
Mayuku writes:

Its good and it helps a lot if you can just have a time in reading and actualizing it by focusing your mind on it, you are there at the pick.

Comment provided June 7, 2011 at 3:46 AM

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16
Mohan Arun writes:

I would like to add the method of ‘freefall writing’ –
It may help to work through writing even with the presence of distractions.

http://www.freefallwriting.com/

Its more apt to call it waterfall writing because you keep writing and never look back until everything in your brain has flowed from pen to paper. Then you spend more time editing, refining and polishing than the time spent writing. Hope this method may work out for some writers.

Comment provided June 7, 2011 at 6:34 AM

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17
Felix Chia writes:

I love your tips, some time I rather read than to watch the video! Isn’t that weir? But that’s just me.

I absolutely love your pdf version of the video. So thoughtful of you!

Three thumbs up!!!

Felix Chia

Comment provided June 7, 2011 at 8:37 AM

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18
Bellaisa writes:

Great tips. I don’t know how many times I get stuck on facebook when I should be working because of a pop-up message.

But sometimes you just have to take a break. For instance, lately I’ve been heading to the library for some quiet time away from my dogs, and I get that quiet time (for about two minutes) until the guy/gal who might as well be setting up to play the trumpet sits at the next table.

Sometimes there is no quiet corner of the library, or anywhere else, and you just have to do something that you would have done later during that moment in time and get back to writing later.

Comment provided June 7, 2011 at 5:37 PM

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19
Tas Pria writes:

Thanks a lot for the great tips! This is just what I needed to read as I keep getting distractions every time I try to write a new article.

Comment provided June 8, 2011 at 5:06 AM

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20
John writes:

i love being distracted so I set a time limit and tell myself I can get back to them when the time is up and [hopefully] the article is finished. Delayed reward.

Comment provided June 8, 2011 at 7:07 AM

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21
Ron Shearer writes:

Thanks for an extremely informative site Marc, I enjoy article writing but have struggled on many occasions just to get a few words on paper. The distractions I encounter sometimes drives me nuts but they do reset the brain which enables me to see an idea in a different light.
So thanks for the insights and tips

Comment provided June 8, 2011 at 8:07 AM

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22
Blair writes:

I work from home, and it is a constant battle of distractions. Most of the time I win, but I get weary of the battle. It is not JUST because I work from home, an outside office has its own distractions. I guess my biggest challenge is noise. I somewhat envy those guys that can tune everyone out.

Thanks for your tips.

Comment provided June 8, 2011 at 8:29 AM

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23

Hey Marc – thanks for the practical tips. I’d like to add 2 more tips to yours on ‘Control your writing environment’ and that is ‘Work in good lighting wearing comfortable clothes with a scratch pad handy for jotting down things-to-do. So you don’t need to get out of your writing zone to attend to these until you are done writing quality articles for the day.’

Comment provided June 18, 2011 at 7:53 AM

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24

Thanks, great tips. This is the best distraction I’ve encountered in a long time. Good you can’t see my desk right now. I’ll unclutter it now and get to work.

Comment provided July 1, 2011 at 2:56 PM

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25
Amy Hagerup writes:

Good advice. I try using the timer system too. This helps keep me focused. I find it a lot harder to work when my girls are home for the summer, so I have to schedule good time with them and keep my priorities straight. blessings, Amy

Comment provided July 1, 2011 at 3:03 PM

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26
Roezer writes:

When I write the slightest thing seems to distract me I like to write with mousepad it’s a simple text editor for Ubuntu then I format it using my WordPress wysiwyg editor. As for Music it seems to be too distracting unless it’s wordless because the lyrics will make you think of something else so instrumental music would be a better choice

Comment provided July 1, 2011 at 4:56 PM

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27
Kai Sensei writes:

Thank you. This was really helpful! I jot down awesome blogging ideas on my smartphone. Sometimes thats where I make my outline so that I won’t forget my train of thought. Music also helps but SILENCE is better. LOL. I sometimes go to a coffee shop and somehow it works.. I end up shutting off the environmental noise and find my focus there.

Comment provided July 1, 2011 at 6:47 PM

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28
Jack writes:

Lots of distractions tend to make me procrastinate, that’s what I’m experiencing every day. Thank you for your great advice. I feel better now.

Comment provided July 1, 2011 at 11:20 PM

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29
Catherine Pain writes:

Nice one!! Really appreciate the tips – especially the ear phones one. Thanks – one other thing that I know to be true but I am still really bad at – is if possible to set a time limit and then stick to it!

Comment provided July 2, 2011 at 2:56 AM

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30
Najma Maniar writes:

Very nice tips and most practical.

Comment provided July 2, 2011 at 6:27 AM

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31

A lot of useful information that can be used to help with distractions and scatterbrain syndrome. I know that at times I am easily put off track, and sometimes its easy to get back on track, but other times can take hours. thank you for the assistance.

Comment provided July 3, 2011 at 7:28 PM

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32

Hi Mark,
I like your thought provoking style of writing!
Thanks for the tips…

Good work.

Comment provided July 4, 2011 at 1:19 AM

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33
Erika writes:

OMG an actual guide that gives practical things I can do right now to stay focused. Thanks for sharing this!!

Comment provided July 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM

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34
Jeff Davies writes:

Getting the peace and quiet to write is one of the most difficult things when you work from the dining table in your own home. Great tips.

Comment provided July 18, 2011 at 3:46 PM

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35
Leon Makojed writes:

Great advice.

Distractions can double the time it takes to write an article.

I’ve found the best way to overcome this is to get away from the computer when working on the introduction to the article.

Get back to the old kitchen table and write it slowly in pencil.

Once you have this done to your satisfaction, go back to the keyboard and the rest of your article will flow more freely.

Keep those tips coming.

Comment provided July 18, 2011 at 5:11 PM

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36
Elena writes:

I don’t have to worry about distractions. Luckily for me I have some peace and quiet times, as I work from home. Nonetheless, Marc, your videos are so entertaining. I love to watch them. Keep up the good work!

Comment provided July 18, 2011 at 10:10 PM

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37
Robyn writes:

Thanks for the article & tips marc.
I do find it distracting at time working from home. Unlike some I do find having the radio on helps, & I do keep & check on the time.
I am going to try outlining & maybe a timer too after reading some of the comments.

Comment provided July 19, 2011 at 4:39 AM

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38

I use the pen and paper tip a lot because it takes me away from all the distractions of my computer. When I’m online it’s too easy just to quickly check emails or start surfing the net. So I often take myself off to a quiet room/place/cafe with my notebook and just write for a couple of hours. Works well for me. Thanks for the great tips!

Comment provided July 19, 2011 at 5:34 AM

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39
Raghunathan writes:

May be one of the best tips keep away from the distractions while the article writing in progress in all the format. Including giving comments the distraction happens with the net connectivity. Thanks for the tips.

Comment provided August 5, 2011 at 8:31 AM

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