How not to be distracted when writing…

I know that people get distracted by TV, household chores, phones, social media or anything that life throws at them when they are trying to work in their living space. While I get distracted from time to time, more recently I have found a way to combat this. Firstly, one really important thing I got rid of three years ago was my TV. I decided that when I moved into my apartment, it would be a good thing to lose, and I am glad to report that it was one of the best things I have ever done. Seriously, I have never looked back, not even once, and thought, “Oh, I wish I had a TV to watch”

I knew not having a TV would make me more productive because the urge to switch on and see what is happening in the news has gone. I decided that watching the news didn’t do me any favours anyway, other than to make me mostly sad, angry or frustrated. I do keep a check on world affairs via the Internet, but saying cheerio to the TV has made me a much happier and more productive person all round. Instead of watching TV during the pandemic lockdowns of 2020, I wrote a book (The Isolation Sex Stories), how productive is that?

The other thing I did was learn to meditate to clear my mind. I don’t do this every day because I don’t need to, but when I do feel distracted or my brain is full to overload, it’s the perfect way to clear my head and gain some positive energy. There are lots of videos out there to try; see what works for you. Headphones are the best way to do this. You don’t need to clear your mind completely. I often get ideas while meditating, which is a bonus.

While I used to need complete silence to write, now I use an immersive writing YouTube video to listen to. The one I use, by Abbie Emmons, is perfect, as I really enjoy the music and it helps me focus. I write for 30 minutes at a time for two hours, stopping every half hour (at the sound of a bell) to take a 5-minute break. This stops me from getting eye, neck, and wrist strain from continuous writing and gives the brain a break too. Give it a try. There are lots of writing moods to try, i.e. romance, mystery, fantasy etc. (There are probably other immersive writing videos, but I haven’t tried them, let me know if you find a good one that works for you).

Also, please remember that it isn’t the end of the world if you get distracted occasionally; we are only humans, and it is going to happen. Instead, work out if there are things that distract you a little too regularly and work out a way to put them on hold (if it’s possible). Probably phones and social media are the most distracting…

I often used to have to break off mid-flow because of life situations that could not be ignored. Now, it’s easier for me to work for much longer periods. We all have our distractions; it’s how we handle them that matters. We don’t necessarily have to write for many hours a day. Sometimes the best work can be achieved in shorter bursts of time. Our minds can only remain fresh for so long. Distractions can be a good thing in that we come back to writing or whatever work we have to do in a fresher state of mind.

This week I have been investigating Substack, which looks like an interesting and useful platform for writers. I’m gradually filling out my profile there, and I look forward to posting. Please jump in and subscribe to my blog there (it’s free) for my publishing tips. Hopefully, I can give you some ideas and shortcuts. I will aim to make it more detailed than the information I give here.

Believe me, I am always studying how to become more productive, and I will pass on whatever I find works!

Look out for my blog next Friday to see what’s new, and what might help you, whether you are a writer, or whatever you do.

Hit the subscribe button below if you’d like to be kept updated.

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Author: Petra Kidd

Norfolk UK is my home, I live in Norwich by the River Wensum where everyday there is something different to see and learn. I feel a big affinity with the river as I grew up in Cambridge, another great river city. My childhood and teens involved many walks along the Cam where we would watch 'The Bumps,' raft races and as we grew older we enjoyed adventures on our punting pub crawls. Growing up in a multi cultural university city definitely influenced my reading choices, I am a big fan of Japanese fiction, love French literature and enjoy Shakespeare. As a young teen I entertained myself with Jilly Cooper and Dick Francis and then became quite obsessed with Henri Charriere's Papillon. At school all I cared about was English, Art and French, in that exact order. When I finished with school I went to live and work in Greece for a wonderful year before returning to study English Literature and Sociology. At this point I read more classics like the Wyf of Bath, Wuthering Heights and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man plus poets such as Wilfred Owen. My first UK full time job was with Heffer's Paperbacks where I devoured several books at a time, excited by the fact I could borrow what I liked. Bizarrely for me I remember reading The Zurich Axioms, I have no interest in the stock markets but it had me gripped. I can't remember why I picked it up but I have never forgotten it. Heffers introduced me to so many authors, via their books and sometimes in person. It was here I learned about all the genres, it fascinated me that science fiction and horror were so popular, I tried reading it all. Aside from writing letters, it didn't really ever occur to me to write anything myself for many years as I worked my way through a variety of interesting and varied jobs. Then on a visit to the London Aquarium I became struck by an idea so powerful I sat down and wrote my first novel. It went nowhere as really I wrote it because I wanted to. I wrote another novel and again, didn't have the persistance or determination to take it further, I simply enjoyed the process of writing and my characters. Then years later another idea struck me and during a severe bout of Pleurisy where I couldn't do anything physical for months, I wrote the Eight of Swords and The Putsi. This time I published them as ebooks and they became pretty popular. When I fully recovered, I had to concentrate on my business and looking after my mother who has various health issues and the writing went adrift again for many years until 2020 when the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world. March 2020 I moved to my apartment alongside the Wensum to live alone for the first time ever. During the first lockdown I began to write a diary and then the idea for a new set of short stories came to me and in February 2021 they will be published. The Covid-19 Pandemic is not simply a scary virus, it is a historical time and here we are trying to live through it. To many it will feel like a punishment but to me as a writer, in some ways, it came as a gift. Please stay as safe and as well as you can. I hope to entertain you with my stories as we all try to get through this together, even though we are apart. Petra

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