Writers have always been able to find a million different diversions to keep themselves from their work, and between the web, computer games, and the fast pace of modern life, there are a million times more distractions now than in days past.
I was reminded of the multitude of distractions the other day when an old post on the Bookworks blog crossed my desk. The piece covered writing apps that offered a distraction-free experience (I’ve covered a couple such apps myself).
I was about to start writing my own roundup of distraction-free writing apps, but I thought it would be more interesting to ask what fellow writers do when they want to really get work done.
What do you do? Do you change your location, or environment? What about your tools?
Me, I have found that distraction-free writing apps aren’t even the beginning of what it takes to remove distractions.
My first step to ridding myself of distractions is to delete all the games from my work laptop and keep them uninstalled. That way, even if I get distracted there are fewer activities to engage in. Then I take things one step further, and clear my browser history; making it harder to find the online games I used to play.
Next, I open a new browser window for each task and only start tabs for the websites I absolutely have to have open in order to complete the task. (As I sit here writing this post, my open tabs include a few related stories, a DDG search on distraction-free writing apps, and little else). Since I work online, I simply cannot use a distraction-free writing app. Too much of my work involves checking sources, which means I can’t do without a browser, but I have learned that if I don’t have Twitter or Gmail open in a tab then I won’t be checking it every ten seconds. (This doesn’t stop me from opening and then closing a tab for Twitter, but it is a step in the right direction.)
Truth be told, I have never been in a position where I could use one of those distraction-free writing apps; my work has always required that I refer back to one source or another just to make sure (if nothing else) I am not taking anything out of context, or (in the case of reviews) to make sure that my memory or impression of a feature matches with it actually does.
To be honest, I envy anyone who can use one of those distraction-free writing apps, but I also suspect they are relatively few in number. I don’t think there was ever a time when one could write without having multiple sources/inspirations, and in 2017 most of those sources/inspirations are going to be digital.
But I could be wrong.
What steps do you take to create a distraction-free writing environment?