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I told Jenny I needed help focusing.

She sagely suggested I write a blog post about it since other people probably struggle with focusing too.

“You can’t start concentrating until you’ve stopped being distracted.”  From a quote I found on the internet, but I was too distracted to write down the author’s name for attribution!

When I try to focus on writing my novel, my main distractions tend to be:

  • Getting up and doing something else, like searching for food. Hence, the carbs photo.
  • Scrolling through Instagram.
  • Hitting Google Chrome. I start highbrow and eventually go lowbrow. The New York Times leads to the New York Post, and before I know it, thirty minutes are gone.

I needed some helpful ideas. The following are a few I might try.

Turn off my phone. Not just vibrate. Or lower the volume. Turn it completely off. Move it far away from me.

Turn off the internet on my computer. Or even certain websites. This one for Mac users looks like a good one.

Use a typewriter instead of the computer. No internet distractions on that old school device.

This blog post got my attention. The idea that we are addicted to wasting time.  I think there’s some truth to it.

I could try Write or Die.  That program would for sure scare me into focusing.

Or maybe RescueTime.  An app that breaks down how I spend my time online. That would probably be a reality jolt.

Set a timer for 10 minutes. This one I’ve tried, and it works. I tell myself, ok Caroline, for ten minutes, you can focus. Once ten minutes are up, I’m usually into the writing, and I set the timer for another ten minutes and so on.

Pump myself up with some self-talk.  Act like my muse works for me, and not the other way around. Think of my muse as a defiant employee and give it deadlines. Even tell the muse to show up at a fixed time every day and make that sucker get to work and into the flow.

Speaking of flow. That’s what we’re all after. To enter another world and lose track of time so that we can then create for the reader what John Gardner called in The Art of Fiction “a vivid and continuous dream.”

Why the mind struggles with sitting down and doing the work, I wish I knew! That might call for another post titled “Resistance.” This is a great book about that.

2 thoughts on “Distractions

  1. I love what you all are writing on here! I haven’t written in a long while it seems. Ok, I scratched out a poem today, but it was the first in a long time. Guess how I know about your site? Instagram! Guess how I found you on Instagram? Gosh, I don’t even know. One hashtag led to another I suppose! But I will definitely say this: wasting time is addictive (altho instagram is great fun) but if we want to get seriousabout producing some words on a page, we r going to have to discipline ourselves to not idly parambulate the vault of information that is the Internet. There was a book I read a few years back, the title is escaping me & so is the author’s last name, but her first name was Julia: it has all sorts of suggestions for producing creatively. ( Does any of this sound familiar? It’s quite well known. )Anyway, one of the cruxes of her program was hand writing 4 pages every morning. And by morning, she means Early. Ever heard of the yoga term “ambrosial hours?” It’s between 3am & 6am: electricity is stronger then, and creativity higher, plus it’s sooooo quiet. Do this every day! It’s like turning on a faucet. But I do think we need to put away our iPhones 🙄🙂


  2. Thanks for all the nice comments! Yes, I agree. Discipline is the key to not getting sucked into IG and the internet. Sometimes I have it, sometimes I don’t! That writer is Julia Cameron, and her book is The Artist’s Way. Both Jenny and I have read it and it’s great. Jenny does the morning pages exercises. If I can get up that early, I’ll try the 3-6 early morning hours you recommend!


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