Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tips to Keep Distractions from Veering You Off Course

Me - Dora Hiers
This spring, hubby and I purchased a new car. Before that, I drove a Ford Explorer, which I loved, but now that it's mostly me and the dog tooling around, it seemed pointless to drive such a big car. And gas? Nothing like watching $70 drain out of a tank, right?

So when the Explorer got to be of age, I set out to find a car with better gas mileage, but it had to be sporty and roomy enough to accommodate our full-figured Golden Retriever.

We decided on a Hyundai Santa Fe. I could ramble all day about the features. Heated seats, shiftronic capability (the ability to switch between automatic and stick~don't get me going on that!), great gas mileage, and ...

<--- check this out!

An electronic digital display estimates my average miles per gallon. What?? Do you know that you can boost your gas mileage by taking your foot off the accelerator for a few seconds? Well, I am all over that! That's why I got the car, right?

So, instead of focusing on the road, sometimes I would find myself honing in on that blue line, getting giddy as it edged closer to 50 mpg. I mean, really. How cool is that?

But then a honk would get my attention. Or moseying off the side of the road...

It's the same with our writing, isn't it? We allow distractions to take our attention away from getting words on the page. Those interruptions and diversions will drain our writing time and cause us to veer off the road, er...not accomplish anything that day.

Here are some suggestions that help me stay on track:

Determine your most productive time and stick to it. Early on, I recognized my most productive time of the day was in the morning, so that’s when I write. After breakfast and quiet time, I respond to emails and check social media briefly, and then immediately start writing. Every thirty minutes I get up and stretch, occasionally hit the restroom or refresh my drink. I don’t answer the phone unless it’s my husband, and I schedule all appointments for afternoons. Figure out your most productive time and do your best to work with it within the confines of your schedule. 

If you work a full time job, but your fingers fly across the keyboard in the mornings, can you get up a few minutes early to write? If your mind comes alive late at night, carve out some time after the kids go to bed to write. If your day consists of taxiing your kids around from football to gymnastics, you may have to adjust to lugging a laptop or tablet and squeezing word counts in fifteen minute increments. As much as possible, whenever you write, guard that time.

Set a goal. Set a realistic word count goal for the day, and then map it out for the entire year. Sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually a great tool to help you see what you can accomplish if you cut out the distractions. Ask your spouse or a friend to keep you accountable by asking how many words you wrote that day.

Recognize your priorities. My recent college grad lived at home for a short time while he searched for a job. When he sauntered in my office, no matter the time, I was all ears because I recognized time with him was short, so talking with him was a priority. Occasionally, I found it necessary to adjust my word count while he was living with us, which I did, willingly.

Eliminate unnecessary distractions. Do whatever it takes to eliminate distractions. The biggest distraction for me is the Internet. There are apps available to disconnect from the Internet for extended periods of time, or you can just set a timer to alert you when your break is over.

What about you? How do you minimize your distractions?
Care to share the tips that work for you?

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Devastated after the brutal murder of her husband, Chelsea Hammond vows never to love another lawman. Intent on rebuilding her shattered life, she turns her focus to helping troubled teens. But when an angry father bent on retaliation, threatens her, Chelsea must turn to the one man she never thought to trust: Deputy U.S. Marshal Trey Colten. 

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  1. These are great tips, Dora! No wonder you're such a writing machine! I'm just now figuring out that the best thing for me to do is to go straight to writing and forgo the emails until the afternoon. It's too easy for me to be sidetracked by cute puppies and kittens, LOL! I loved my Sante Fe, by the way! Very envious of your new toy! :)

    1. I love my Santa Fe! It's such fun to drive, and we're so happy with our decision. For us, picking out a car takes a very long time. (Think this shopping excursion took a year!)

      Yes, those puppies and kitties will do it every time, won't they? It's best to save your browsing for your non-productive time, that way you can enjoy more. :)

      Thanks, Angie!! Happy writing!

  2. Awesome post, Dora. I am convinced I have ADD. I get so distracted. Hubs is retired, now, so he's the maindistraction LOL..after a career in the classroom, where every minute was scheduled, I find I enjoy freedom to do things my way now, but I confess I do need direction. Maybe those fifty-minute periods with a short break inbetween worked best for me.

    The internet does distract me...mostly if I want to check a quick fact or find a suitable surname or look at a map of my setting: the temptation to check all my email accounts, FB, blogs sweeps over me...My former editor at TWRP once said she writes for two solid hours before she goes online. Oh, it was torture for me, but maybe I should try it again,

    As always good stuff, Dora, xo

    1. I can only imagine how distracted I will be when my hubby's home full-time. lol.

      Bet you'd get a lot of writing accomplished in 2 hrs, Tanya, but girl, you crank 'em out faster than I can plot. :)

  3. In the past couple of months, I've begun to realize I need to make more time for those "priorities." It's tough to do while trying to crank out that word count, though. :)

    1. You're right, Sandy, and you can't beat yourself up about it. It's just a season. :)

  4. A very welcome post, Dora! Seems like my distractions are unending these days. Everything from the retired husband (I feel your pain, Tanya--LOL!) to a new doggy in the family.

    My quality writing time is between lunch and dinner. I have found if I use the mornings to plow through the busy work, emails, etc., it frees my mind to be creative for several hours in the afternoon. You have to do what works for you and then stick as closely to the plan as possible.

    1. Myra, dear friend, you are the master of self-discipline. You're so right. Finding what works for you is key. And my hubby probably will never retire, so we're good there. :D


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