How to Avoid Writing Distractions

I’m in the middle of writing a first draft, and to say I’m finding it difficult is an understatement. One of the main reasons is that I find it so hard to actually sit down and write. Here are some tips I’ve learnt for making writing easier, even if you’re not feeling in the right mood.

1. Don’t prioritise admin

At the start of each day, it’s tempting to answer your emails first, which are often easier and quicker than writing. But this puts your brain in a different mindset than the creative zone you need to be in to write. It’ll be harder to switch over when you need to start writing. Often, admin is less urgent than writing anyway. It can wait.

2. Avoid social media

Delete your apps. Log out of your accounts. Don’t let yourself check any social media at all until you’ve achieved your daily work counts. The internet these days can be such a negative space, it’s hard to stay upbeat and write. You have to shut out the rest of the world to get things done, however difficult it is at first.

The only exception for this is probably myWriteClub, which allows you to update your writing total, and follow your friends who are doing the same.

3. Give yourself an outlet for breaks

Whether it’s a walk around the garden, a colouring book by your desk, or just waiting for the kettle to boil for tea, give yourself something to do that takes a set amount of time when you need a break.

I use newsletters for this. When I need a break, I pick one from my inbox and read it. I prefer these to social media because they’re usually a lot more upbeat, contain lots of interesting links, and are a finite length – there’s no way to get sucked into mindless scrolling.

Here are some of my favourite writing-related newsletters:

Misfits & Daydreamers | Snacks in the stacksDog Ear Half A Dozen 

Getting CleverWitty Title Here | Zan Romanoff | The Black Cardigan 

I subscribe to a lot of these, so if this is your thing, check out my own blog over the next few weeks – I’m going to be posting a full list of my favourites.

4. Trick your brain into entering the writing mood

I use music, essential oils and candles to give ‘signals’ to my brain that now is the time to work. I also try to restrict recreational time online to my ipad, so whenever I sit at my desk, I know that it’s time to work.

5. Sometimes, you just can’t write.

If you’re not in the mood, you can’t force it. Answer your unanswered emails instead, or file your taxes, or write some blog posts or make some playlists or moodboards to inspire you and share with readers.

Don’t beat yourself up for not writing, because being an author has other responsibilities too.

Good luck with your writing – if I can do it, you can too!

Published by Lauren James

Lauren James is the twice Carnegie-nominated British author of many Young Adult novels, including Green Rising, The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. She is a RLF Royal Fellow, freelance editor and screenwriter. Lauren is the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League, and on the board of the Authors & Illustrators Sustainability Working Group through the Society of Authors. Her books have sold over a hundred thousand copies worldwide and been translated into six languages. The Quiet at the End of the World was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and STEAM Children’s Book Award. Her other novels include The Next Together series, the dyslexia-friendly novella series The Watchmaker and the Duke and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise. She was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and many of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. She sold the rights to her first novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2022. She has taught creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands.

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