Dear Diary Guest Post: Ava Jae How to Cut Out Distractions

I’ll be the first to admit that I often fall victim to distraction. Whether it’s the never-ending Hulu queue, a “quick” scroll through Twitter/tumblr/Facebook/YouTube, a great book demanding my attention, or playing around with Spotify playlists, there is no shortage of distractions available to our disposal.

In the midst of these distractions, finding the time to write can feel like a battle. Between work, family matters and all of those truly unavoidable time-sucks, it’s certainly understandable to want to take some breaks to truly relax. To watch a quick TV show, cuddle up with a book, or check your e-mail. And sometimes (dare I say many times?) those short breaks flash by and before you know it, an hour has gone by and you still haven’t written a word.

It happens to the best of us. But it’s easily avoidable. The key is a dose of discipline and the occasional help of some software.

I’ve raved about the miracle that is Write or Die and I still swear by it. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve written several manuscripts in their near entirety in the focused writing spurts the application creates for you.

The reason Write or Die works so well for me is because it forces you to ignore all other distractions, by punishing you every time you stop writing. It has a pause button, but it forces you to use it sparingly—you can only pause it once per session. I use it in fullscreen mode to further discourage any wayward clicking, and it’s how I pretty consistently manage to write between 700-1200 words in half an hour.

Another application I’ve heard writers swear by (although I’ll admit I’m too chicken to try it myself) is Freedom. The idea behind the app is that it turns off your internet for a certain specified amount of time, and it is impossible to turn back on until the timer runs out, thus eliminating internet distractions for some time. Freedom, of course, would not work with certain online applications like Write or Die, but if a timer and scary red screen isn’t your thing and you’re trying to eliminate distractions, this may be a good option to try.

Naturally software isn’t the only way to turn off the distractions and get writing, but for those who are prone to moments of shiny ADD-ness, they may very well be options to consider.