Writing Wednesday: On Getting Distracted and Getting to Work

Hello everyone, and happy Wednesday!

I just recently returned from a week-long vacation, but where I was staying had no internet access besides cellular data, so I fell behind on a lot of the bookish world. That being said, without social media and YouTube and Netflix to distract me, I managed to get through two and a half books and started outlining a novel.

Total 180 here: when I was in high school, I did a lot of writing. It’s true that I was in writing clubs and classes, so I had to write, but in my spare time I also wrote almost a whole trilogy between the ages of 14-17, including the millions of drafts and versions of the story that preceded the most recent one.

Unfortunately, when I started university I seem to have lost all the writing discipline I’d had before. When I’m not doing school work or other work, I find that I’m constantly refreshing my Twitter feed and YouTube subscription box, hoping to keep up with the latest buzz. I also just started the second season of Shadowhunters, when I totally did not need to! I often blame my lack of writing progress on my lack of creativity, because sometimes I’ll open a Word document but all I’ll do is stare at a blank page for ten minutes. But clearly my week without wi-fi was all I needed to get to work – the creativity is still there, but the discipline is not.

Now, it’s easy to say that all I need to do is delete my social media accounts, but that’s not very realistic for me. I am a social person, and I am really not down to disconnect from the world. There are, however, some tricks that I would like to try in order to get myself back on the writing track. Who knows, maybe someone reading this has the same problems, and could use some of these, too!

1. Decrease distractions.

While I am not okay with completely deleting myself off the internet, there are some methods of stopping myself from checking social media as obsessively as I do. On my phone I use the Forest app, which is a productivity app that grows a virtual tree for the time you tell it to, but if you ever leave the app then the tree dies. This is the kind of application that really hits my guilt strings, and it has worked wonders when I’m doing my school work.

I don’t have any applications on my laptop, but often when I’m doing school work I will sign out of Google/Youtube and Twitter, that way when I impulsively type their web addresses in the bar I won’t instantly have access to my feeds. Often seeing the sign-in page is enough of a reminder that I’m not supposed to be procrastinating, and that there is work to be done. I should probably do that with Netflix, too.

2. Track Progress.

A lot of authors have agendas or calendars that they use to not only schedule their lives, but also to track how much they’ve written. Some authors, like my friends Sarena and Sasha, write down the dates for when they hit certain word-count milestones, and when they finish. Others, like Victoria Schwab, use stickers to count how many words they wrote on a certain day. I think that if I adopt these methods of progress tracking, it will help keep me motivated to keep doing better than the day before, which will hopefully take me all the way to the end of a book, or at least a first draft.

3. Make a schedule, and stick to it.

I’ve always been a planner, but recently I’ve been trying to make a schedule for myself that incorporated many daily habits that I want to become routine, including working out, reading, and, of course, writing. Sticking to a schedule can be hard when spontaneous hangouts with friends happen, or you miss you bus. But I’ve realized that if writing is something I want to do, I can’t just do it whenever I please – I have to set aside time for it around my work and, in the Fall, my school. I’m hoping to be able to implement a schedule, now that my only constant obligation is work, and maybe I’ll be able to transition into a school-term schedule – but we’ll see about that!

4. Treat it like a job.

I’ve always been a hard worker when it comes to school and work – in fact, sometimes I wonder if I take them a little too seriously. I’ve noticed that I do not put the same intensity into my writing as I do with them, which may be why I do not prioritize writing. What I am coming to understand is that being a published author and having a book out in the world isn’t something that will just magically happen; it’s not just luck and good timing. I have to make the time, I have to put in the work, and I have to be committed to it. Dreams take work, and it’s about dang time I started putting that same work ethic I have for school and my job into my writing.

I’ve learned a lot about myself recently, about what I want in life and who I want to be. I’ve been making some lifestyle changes, and adding more writing to my life is one of them. The goal is to get my writing fire back, the same one I had as a teenager. It’s going to be a long, tough road, but if this is what I want, then I need to work for it.


Do you have trouble sitting down and writing? How do you deal with distractions or lost writing-sparks? Let’s chat about Writer’s Block down in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading this silly ramble, and I hope you have a fantastic day!

~Becca

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