Staying Focused When Distractions Are All Around


It’s ironic for me to write this post, as I am one of the most distract-able people around. Youtube videos, tumblr black holes, Wikipedia searches and kids (none of my own, just those I live with) are only the start of things that can derail me when I sit down to write.

We won’t always have a quiet place. We might never have a dedicated office or coffee shop to escape to. So what do you do when your surroundings are full of distractions, legitimate or otherwise?

Speaking to single writers, our issue is we probably won’t always be single. So before marriage and children (and more) come into the picture, let’s talk how to start prioritizing our writing now.

Find Your Midnight:

As a night owl, I usually cherish the time when all my roommates go to sleep and I’m wide awake and ready to go. I wouldn’t recommend coffee if you’re a night owl – you’ll likely turn into a red-eyed, irritable grouch during the day. But for an hour or two you can have peace and quiet to concentrate.

Breathe In Pre-Dawn:

Breathe in pre-dawn. If you’re a morning person, one of those chipper up-with-the-rooster before the sun breaks the horizon people, this is the time to steal for yourself. Heat up that water for coffee or tea, find a great writing spot where people won’t stumble over you in their fumblings for a cup of joe, and get some writing done before everyone’s day starts.

Lunch Breaks:

Lunch time, if you work, is an amazing time to multi-task. If you get regular breaks at your job, those work as well.

I used to hate doing more than one thing while eating, and then I got a job where there was no break for lunch – you kept answering phones while pushing your lunch to one side of your mouth while you tried to sound like a normal person and not a chipmunk. After that experience, I learned how to multi-task on the job (warning – you should only do this IF your job is compatible with this kind of thing!) Being a phone operator (or whatever your choice of job) is not always glamorous, but for all the college students out there wanting time to write, those few minutes between tasks can be a gold mine for your story.

Fringe Hours:

This is a strategy I’m still figuring out, but the best way I’ve found to make use of my fringe hours (that time of 15-20 minutes between tasks) is to always have a pen and paper on hand for the unexpected moments

I’ve long been in the practice of carrying a small notebook around to write in when I’m on the bus, waiting in long lines (overseas, mostly), at the doctor’s office or during breaks between classes. I could get a whole chapter written in the times I was forced to wait unexpectedly, and being able to do something enjoyable with that time made my days much more pleasant – rather than being irritated at “losing” that time.

So what time of day is the most convenient for you to start jotting? What slivers of time do you think you’ll use to further your story? Let us know in the comments!


Katie, signing off.

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