It’s easy to become distracted during the summer months. Almost anything can distract you, if you allow it to. It can take a long time to learn how to focus on your writing in such a way that distractions will be minimized, if not avoided altogether even during the summer months.
Most of us can learn to focus on one project and write for an hour or two four or five days a week with a bit of planning, practice and discipline.
Distractions can take many different forms. We could be distracted by our children, spouses, family members, beautiful weather, or phone and email. Limiting these distractions can be easy, if you take a few steps. Here are a few to consider.
- Set an egg-timer
I find that setting a timer helps a lot. I set it for, say, one or two hours, and during that time, I don’t do anything but think about what I am doing. The timer gives me the structure I need to keep my eyes and mind on the manuscript that I am working on.
- Do nothing but write during your allotted time
Nothing, except an emergency, should move you to do anything else than write during my allotted time. If you are serious about writing, make sure that you actually write during your devoted time.
- Shut-off all outside distractions before sitting down to write
It is important for writers to shut off the ringer on the phone and don’t answer the door if the doorbell rings during your allotted writing session. Do nothing but write.
- Tell Family about your Writing Time
It is important for you to tell your family ahead of time what your writing schedule will be for the week. Then when you’re writing time comes, honor it so that your family can honor it too. Don’t be persuaded to do anything but write during those times. Be firm!
- Work on one project at a time
Productive writers usually finish up all their writing projects. They work diligently through discouragement and rejection. They also find a way to work consistently on a project until it is complete.
Writers will usually hit a lot of distractions when they set out to write during the summer. This is to be expected and is very much a part of writing practice. Try not to give up and quit when the going gets tough. Just keep finding ways to write, even if it is for a short period of time.
I always tell the writers in my critique groups that it is important to write as often as possible. We have all made a commitment to write every day, even if it is for a short time such as 15 minutes. You have no idea how much momentum this brings to your writing life until you try it. So, part of our motto is Write every day! And that is the promise we make to ourselves and each other. And at the end of the summer, we usually get a LOT of writing done!
So, we could try and do something similar in this group. I believe that part of writing consistently is making a commitment to your writing, and finding a time to write every day—even if it is a short time.
Not only will be habitually writing and become more confident as a writer, but your family and friends will also know that you are serious about your writing.
However, sometimes, you will have to think outside of the box in order to get some writing done.
So, here are some unlikely places that I wrote just to get some extra words down on my WIP during the summer:
- Write in the car—of course only if you are a passenger. If you are taking a trip to a special destination that takes an hour or two, you could bring your paper and pen or even laptop and just write for a few minutes at a time.
I sometimes get into the back seat where it is quieter and I just write for about half an hour or so until the next pit stop on our trip.
- Write in the airport—while waiting to board the plane. Sometimes there are delays. Most times, we have to get there at least an hour ahead of time. So, this can be a time to write for even a few minutes.
- Once the plane is in flight, you can write during your flight or at least read to prepare to write.
- Wake up a bit earlier and write.
- Stay up a bit later and write for a few minutes.
- While your spouse is watching television in the evening, remove yourself on the bed or at a table in the room and write for a few minutes.
- If it is a nice day, write outside. If the weather is stopping you from writing, take your laptop outside and write there. Or take your pen and paper and head for the park. That is what I do. There is no better feeling that actually writing and thinking by the Avon River.
But also have times when you’re plugged off writing during holidays. Otherwise, you will get on your family’s nerves and you will probably not get much writing done. So, do your writing as bookends during the day, either in the morning or at night. During the day, go out and enjoy yourself. After all, that is what being on vacation is all about. Make memories. Take photos. Eat great food!
By taking these steps, you will be getting some writing during the summer holidays.
Irene S. Roth