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Creative Writing Tips – Top 20 Distractions and Excuses That Keep You From Writing
People often cite too many distractions in their lives to keep them from working on their writing/creative projects. They also like to cling to excuses that have blocked their creative outlets for years. This article of creative writing tips offers potential solutions to 20 common distractions or excuses. That way, if you don’t write, “I’m choosing not to deal with these problems,” you can say, not blame the problems themselves. Acceptance is the first step, right? 🙂
1. My phone keeps ringing with calls or texts.
Turn it off or be dramatic and take out the battery. Believe it or not, the world goes by without you reaching for it for a while. If you don’t believe it, test for ten minutes and see if the earth is still here. If yes, try to add little by little to that time. Otherwise, wow, you really matter!
2. People keep sending me instant messages.
Quit the offending program or uninstall the dang thing. I uninstalled AOL Instant Messenger two years ago and my life has been much more productive ever since. If you’re worried you’ll miss a certain person’s message, tell them you’ll be busy doing something cool for an hour.
3. My house, cafe, basement, attic or street is too noisy.
Write elsewhere? If you’re willing to leave the troubled area, finding a quiet place isn’t too difficult. Local libraries, bookstores, or quiet restaurants work for me when I want to be quiet. If you have to stay in your noisy place, ear plugs are a cheap solution and noise-canceling headphones are a bit more expensive. And finally, the bathroom is always a good last resort.
4. I’m too jumpy or nervous to write!!!
Oh, calm down. First, read my article on quitting coffee :). Second, instead of stopping to write, think for a moment. In the past in your life, when you needed to calm down or relax, what did you do? Read a book? Ever heard of Frank Sinatra? Did you give it to some? Try what works for you, then get back to writing. It will probably be very easy to get started.
5. I feel like checking my e-mail, traffic statistics, football scores, etc. on the computer.
Turn it off, unplug it, or leave the house. Challenge yourself to put it off for as long as you can. Without a computer, how do you write? Go old school and grab a pad of paper and a pencil.
6. My computer is broken, too slow, or underutilized.
See the pad of paper suggestion in #5. If you must use a computer, ask a friend or search an Internet cafe.
7. My favorite TV show or movie is on.
Turn it off, unplug it, or leave the house. These days, almost every popular TV show is online the next day. Also, if you have a TiVo or DVR, problem solved. It’s time for you to write, don’t let CBS tell you. If it’s your favorite movie, find a way to record it or buy a DVD. Most of these solutions sacrifice your immediate happiness for your ultimate fulfillment. Trust me when I say this: TV is less important than you.
8. I am too tired to write.
Get up and walk around, do some stretching, eat an apple and some raw almonds. Put on some pump up music and dance a little. If all that doesn’t work, stand up and write. Difficulty sleeping standing up. Don’t just pop a pill or drink a Red Bull. It works in the short term and damages in the long term. Also, assess what time of day you are strongest. Write at that time.
9. I am too hungry to write.
Get your laptop or paper and pencil out of the house and stop by a good writing cafe. If you spend time preparing a five-course meal at home, you may lose the drive to write by the time you finish stuffing yourself. Let someone else do the work for you and write while they do it.
10. I have to leave for work in an hour.
Leave now! Get there early and write when you get there. Heck, if you take public transportation, write it down on the way there. Just because you don’t have much time to write, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Make some progress. And by leaving the house, you eliminate many distractions right there.
11. I have time, but I’m not motivated.
Surf around this site for twenty minutes! That’s what it’s for :).
A quick tip: Think about how good you’ll feel when you finish the part you’re working on. That is the basic law of attraction.
12. I don’t know how to do the next chapter, story, part or scene.
Just write. Write the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t judge. Go for it! If you want specific information, gather research and then write! There is no way you have to do a certain thing, it just has to be done. So, make it happen.
13. My dog/cat/bird should go out for a walk.
Why not bring your dog/cat/bird to the dog/cat/bird park with your trusty paper? If not, use taking your pet out as an excuse to leave the house to work. When you return home, drop off your pet and head to a local cafe or favorite writing spot. I’m sure he or she will understand :).
14. I said I would do anything for my boss, my friend, my land lady, my spouse, etc.
Now you can bust out an old IM, text message, or phone call and tell the person in question that you’re unable to work on his or her project. This is not a lie! You have an important project to work on. If you’re motivated, you have an idea, and you’ve yet to get started, you should let go of your pre-engagement.
If rescheduling is impossible for you, do it. If you can’t reschedule it, try delegating. If both of these are not possible then postpone for an hour or two and start writing. Your writing is important. The sooner you start letting people know who “request” your time, the more time you’ll find writing will come naturally.
15. I cannot write because of grief, sorrow, rage, or any other powerful emotion.
Perfect! Use it. Being overwhelmed with emotion is a great condition as a writer. There’s a lot of raw power that you can draw from and draw from.
Try to convince yourself that putting this emotion on the page is great for your writing. If that seems impossible, find a friend who understands your desire to put your feelings into writing. We call this friend a writing buddy.
I was a writing buddy for my friend Adam during a difficult hiatus. He was devastated. He couldn’t eat or sleep, but I forced him to write. As a result, the one-man show is currently being made into a full-length film. Putting genuine emotion into your work will take you far. Some obstacles are not obstacles.
16. I want to write, I don’t think I’m good at it.
prove it Prove to me that you are not a good writer. I can show you the proof of the chinks in my armor. I received a C in a poetry class, a fiction teacher told me I shouldn’t write fiction, and a newspaper review mentioned that I co-wrote a “lemon” of the script. And yet, I pressed on. why how
I have yet to make my greatest contribution. I can feel that there is something more that I can write, or something that will be final. Maybe it’s this website and maybe it’s not. I know I’m getting closer because I still want to write.
If you want to write, you must write. If you feel you have no talent but still want to write, there must be a reason. If you don’t write, you won’t find that reason. If you’ve yet to test the waters, you might as well jump in. Talent and perceived talent are only a small part of the top. So I say, dig in, write and see what happens. You know, before I make another metaphor :).
17. I don’t know how to write.
Pick up your favorite book or play and turn to the passage or scene that you have been most devoted to. Write something in the style of that scene. With the same characters or your own creations. When you’re done, read it out loud and rule out anything that sounds strange. Now repeat the same process with another scene. Keep doing that until you feel comfortable starting from scratch. If interested in non-fiction, do the same with non-fiction work. And then you’re a writer. Start putting it on your business cards :).
18. I work a lot! There aren’t enough hours in the day.
Option 1 – Change one of your jobs to allow you to write. This can be done by working as a receptionist in a library or a less busy office. Also, finding something passive like a website or some form of investment frees up some time to write.
Option 2 – Less sleep.
I started option two a year ago and option one two months ago. They both have positive and negative qualities. Option two is more effective individually, and both work best if you have strong goals to support them. I know sacrificing sleep is bad for your health, but I plan to improve this aspect of my life in the future.
Making time for your writing often requires sacrifice. What will it be?
19. I have no ideas.
There are tons of free creative writing prompts on the Internet. Many are on my website if you go there.
20. I have so much to say, I can’t get it all in at once!
Start small. Just write a paragraph. Or write an outline. Don’t let the wealth of your ideas stop you. You have the best problem. Know that anything takes time.
But if you absolutely must get it all, take a day off work, go to a cafe and bring lots of paper :). I once wrote a screenplay in a day because it just felt like it needed to get out of my head. Why fight it? Start writing!
Please please write. Don’t let anything get in your way. If you get stuck, check back here and I’ll try to get you through it. Happy writing.
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