Thursday, August 02, 2018

Embrace Distraction: Writing Productivity Hack

We are used to thinking about distraction as something to banish, but what if we didn't panic when it came calling? The truth is, properly indulged in, distraction can be one of our strongest tools when it comes to producing consistently and busting through writer's block. Here is how to use it to your advantage:

1. Daydream like it is your job.

Besides being a big stress buster, staring off into space and letting your mind float around is good for your writing. If when daydreaming you notice you are suddenly remembering things you don't want to forget, take a moment and write them down. Otherwise, dream up a trip, a place, a feeling, or a conversation. Ask yourself questions. Keep it dreamy and positive. It is often when you are relaxed that great story ideas and problem solving concepts arise. You don't want to miss them by not indulging.

2. Keep a list of ideas that pop up beside your to do list.

When we are on task, new ideas are sure to pop up and offer up distraction. Don't immediately push them away as then you will need to use up creative brain space to recall them later. Make note of them and when you want a change of pace or something to think about later, you can revisit them. If it is something you really want to get to, tell yourself that as soon as you have 500 words of your current project on the page, you can get to it.

3. Celebrate ideas that pop up.

Often ideas present themselves as something big, but they don't all have to be books we put off until some future date. Use those ideas now. If they are book worthy, you can expand on them later. Do something with them -- a blog post, an article query, an encouraging note to a friend. It doesn't have to be big to be its intended use. When you receive ideas, treat them like the gifts they are and you will notice how many more you are given.

4. Procrastinate by doing your future to do's.

When you bribe yourself to temporarily get out of what you have to do today by attending to something you'll need to have done farther down the road, you will feel like you're letting yourself off the hook while you are being proactive in another area. The key is to still make progress on what you need to get done today. Set your minimums in terms of word count and timers and then let yourself jump around your to do list. It can feel like playing when you really feel resistant to what's on your plate.

5. Collect words or scenes to employ as writer's block breakers.

Mindmapping or letting yourself free associate by filling a page with words by hand is a great way to collect fun tools to use for future scenes. One fun activity is to list the nouns you see in the room around you on the left hand side of the page (door, floor, ceiling, table, chair, dog, vaccum cleaner etc) and then on the right hand side of the page make a list of verbs (jumped, ran, paused, screamed, stirred, etc) and then play a matching game and write sentences from the results. They can make the best scene starters and striking sentences.

Let me know how you enjoy your spells of daydreaming. What tip worked the best for you? Have any to add? Leave them in the comments.


  1. Handy tips! When I'm stuck, I type a word, any word. The next appears, and I'm off... A word doesn't like to be lonely.

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