Are you finding it difficult to remain focused when you write? You’re not alone. For many writers it is difficult to keep focused on their project for an extended period of time. This blog is all about being a more productive writer and to that end, I’ve created a little tool that you can use to track your progress and recognise when you’re being distracted. So create a target, set some resolutions and hold yourself accountable. Your biggest weapon in this fight? A single piece of paper and my distraction destroyer!
What is it?
The distraction destroyer is a tool I’ve created to help you track your writing and your distractions. It’s simple to use and creates a brilliant summary of how your writing has been going over five sessions. You can get a digital version by signing up to my mailing list, but if you’d prefer, you can create your own using the steps below.
How does this work?
I’m really excited about the distraction destroyer. This is a fantastic tool. It works in two ways:
First – it’s a deterrent. By having the page open next to you, you’re much less likely to fall victim to your distractions. You’ll know that you’ll be holding yourself accountable at the end of a writing session, and this creates a positive reason for you to focus your attention on the page, not everything going on around you.
Second – it’s a tracker. We track so much of our lives at the moment, yet most don’t actually provide anything useful. By looking at how you behave when you write you’ll be able to make changes to your behaviour to improve your writing. Think of it like a sports tracker for writers.
How do I create my own?
If you’d rather do this the old fashioned way with a pen and paper you can. I designed the distraction destroyer on a paper and pad, and it works great (although you might need a calculator handy. The digital version does everything for you of course.
Grab a piece of paper and title it with the day’s date and the piece you’re working on. Add the time you plan to start, and a space to put in the time you finish. Then (so you can compare to other days) include a space for how many words you manage and the total time you’ve been writing for. Here’s my first go.
So far, so good. Now comes the fun (or depressing) bit. Have a hard think, and look at yourself. What are the 5 biggest distractions that you have when writing? For me, it’s:
- Checking social media
- Checking emails
- Changing my background music
- Online shopping
- Grabbing a snack
List them below your start and finish time.
If you’re using my tool, fill them in on the front page and the rest of the week will autocomplete.
As you write, keep the page next to you, within easy reach. Every time that you fall victim to a distraction, mark it down. Be honest. This isn’t supposed to hurt you, it’s supposed to give you an idea of how distracted you get when you’re writing. When you’ve finished, see how you’ve done.
The spreadsheet I’ve created here will give you a readout of your progress after five sessions of writing. I recommend using the tool for one week, then saving another copy and doing it again for a second. See if it makes a difference – I bet it will – and let me know in the comments below, or let me know on Twitter or Facebook.
(Oh, and I’m not leaving you here. Here’s my first page, after I tested this technique earlier this year).
Can I feed back?
Please do! I’d love to hear in the comments how you found the tool. Or you can email me at email@example.com, or contact me here.