How much work do you achieve each day, each week? Are you as productive as you want to be, as you can be? You know you can write more, but each time you turn on your computer you become distracted – an hour later and you’re deep into your new Facebook friend’s family photos. Would you like to give up your time sinks and become more productive?
A countdown of reasons why you may be distracted from your writing
Loss of confidence: you’re distracted because you don’t have confidence in your work. One of the main reasons you don’t write as much as you want to is because you think you have nothing more to say; that people don’t ‘get’ what you do, and that you aren’t knowledgeable enough to teach others. You feel as though you’re repeating yourself and that it’s only a matter of time before readers see you as the fake you believe you are. This loss of confidence is eating you up inside and subconsciously you feel that if you sabotage your own efforts and write less, you’ll have fewer opportunities to mess up and reveal who you’ve come to think you are.
Tips to help:
- Go back to some of your truly successful stories and read though them again.
- If you have testimonials, read a few every day to remind yourself about what people have been saying about you, and how your work has helped them.
- Give yourself a reward each time you manage to get something done from start to finish.
- Get hold of how to build confidence books, blogs and materials. This may sound clichéd, but conditioning the mind to thrive really does bring success! Your subconscious has no intelligence. It cannot reason. It ‘learns’ from continuous thoughts and actions. It can easily be programmed by its owner. Are you programming it to make you fail?
Writer’s block: you may be distracted from your writing because you’re experiencing a temporary writer’s block. You turn on the computer, fully expecting and intending to open a fresh document and create something new. As soon as the welcome page has loaded you realise that your brain has gone completely blank. You don’t know what’s caused it, but nothing works to take you back to the days of your former writing glories.
Tips to help:
- Read blogs and websites in your niche and make notes of articles which have a large number of comments. Write a blog post to address one of the questions asked in the comments section. (You don’t have to name or pinpoint anyone – just write a normal blog post).
- Do something different. Turn off the computer. This is important because you don’t want to build up a learned habit of mindlessness associated with the computer. (Remember about the subconscious and its lack of intellect). If your subconscious learns that the mind wanders and the brain freezes when you open a computer, it will do this every time ‘to help you out’. It will think this is what it’s supposed to do.
- Take pictures and listen to your favourite music. Pictures paint a thousand words for a good reason. One of those reasons is to inspire – especially people like us who are natural creators. Sit down and look at the pictures you took and you’ll be motivated to come up with various articles. This is how I plan articles to write on one of my blogs. I take a bunch of pictures then use each one to write an article within my niche. I never run out of articles! Music also inspires us. Use it to your advantage to cure your writer’s block.
And the biggest reason writers are distracted from their writing: no direction or routine
This is probably the reason you are not writing as much as you should, you can, and want to. You have no direction. You perhaps turn your computer on and look at your emails first because you think this is what you should do. You get side-tracked by the link within an email you received and click on it. It takes you to a webpage, where you start to read some of the comments left there.
Someone’s left an amusing comment and he has a link to his Facebook page on it. You follow the link to his Facebook profile so you could add him as a friend. While there, you notice that he’s also friends with a blogger you’d really like to get to know.
You click on this blogger’s profile and notice he’s raving about his new e-Book. He has a few pictures of the book cover, so you click to make them bigger. You view these images and before you realise it, you’re looking through pictures of his dog. Two hours later and you’ve made your way back to the second email on your inbox…
You will not progress as a writer living and working like this!
Tips to help:
You need to make a writing time table and stick to it. Avoid time sinks because at the end of the day when the only words you’ve written are the 140 characters you posted on twitter, you’ll feel terrible about yourself and your productivity. I learned about the writing/Internet timetable from Mitz at Tips4PC and have never looked back since.
Elements to note when creating your timetable
- An excel document is the perfect way to create your timetable.
- It’s important to turn off the email sound so that it’s not pinging you every time you receive a new message in your inbox.
- Stick to your guns. If you have 20 minutes on Facebook, log off at the end of 20 minutes – even if you’re having a conversation with someone else. Excuse yourself and say you’re off to work now.
- Unsubscribe to all blogs you no longer read, and from all Facebook groups/posts you no longer visit. This will make your inbox cleaner and less mind-clogging.
- Colour code your time table so you can clearly see things you should prioritize.
- Make time for updating and editing your old posts.
- Make time each week for creating back-links for your blogs.
Here is a copy of my writing timetable. It keeps me on track. Copy it if you like and replace what you don’t need with your personal preferences. You’ll immediately see the difference in the amount of work you put out.
Note: I change these hours around when I have to, or when I have deadlines I have to meet. The networking, commenting and back-linking can all wait until my more important work is done.
Also note: When you network you can keep 3 windows (Twitter, Facebook, Quora) open at the same time so you can switch between them without hanging around to wait for replies. When the hour is up, you should wrap up conversations instantly and close the windows down.
Anne Lyken-Garner is a published author, freelance writer, blogger and editor. She writes for, and manages 4 blogs and edited The Writers Bureau online student magazine for 2 years. You can read more about Anne at her writing blog, A Blogger’s Books, where you can check out her Free English Lessons series and her inspirational book, Sunday’s Child.