Avoiding Distraction and Burnout

Issues I face while trying to write a novel…

Avoiding Distraction and Burnout

It is easy to get distracted by goings on in social media, what’s just popped into your inbox and who’s just posted an interesting blog if you write on your computer… but if you are able to avoid those pitfalls and find yourself on a roll only to fizzle out days later with writer’s block; how are you ever supposed to get any work done?

I’m constantly hearing about these issues from friends, and not necessarily from other writers, and thought I’d share some of my practices to stop these creative killers.

Have a workspace that will allow you to immerse yourself in your story. I have a pin board above the computer with photos, notes, a rough outline for the larger projects (it’s literally like a scrapbook has thrown up on my wall) and a different workspace for blogging and other work (that is kept clear and clinical). I work on a computer that does not connect to the internet to erase any chance of getting sucked into the black hole of interweb temptations.

But I still need to check my email, and get some marketing activities done each day; as well as some entertainment time to connect with friends or watch a funny dog video on YouTube. For this I allot a time limit – even go so far as setting a timer – to do my thing and get back to the days duties. Usually it’s an hour first thing in the morning while I’m having breakfast. It also gives me a chance to quasi plan what I want to achieve that day.

Avoiding Distraction and Burnout 03The timer method also works when I’m starting to stumble in my writing – and you can do this in a number of ways:

Simply take a break for an hour and create something new.

Or maybe you have a few projects going at the moment – so spend an hour on each.

Sometimes, I’ll jump forward and write a key scene in the plot (there’s no rule saying you have to write in chronological order).

Spend an hour in a different location, or dictate instead of typing or writing.

All of this is just a different approach to the same thing, and maybe the fresh stimulus shakes something loose.

We don’t create in a bubble, imagination needs some sort of input, so don’t starve your brain of the food it needs to construct something fantastic. Then, even if the distractions are there – you won’t be interested.

I’ve used these methods on many creative endeavours – reading, sewing, building, graphic design… the list is endless. You just have to keep coming up with different angles to keep your project moving forward. But remember to cut yourself a break if it doesn’t happen, nothing worse than stressing yourself out: it only adds to the problem. Maybe you simply need to have a day off. Play with your dog, visit a zoo.

It’s not like I live my life to a series of alarms and scheduled days, though, when I need to knuckle down it certainly is. But these tips are just a guide that may help you along and eliminate any unnecessary time wasting.

And above all – keep a sense of humour in all that you do. It stops me from spiralling into having a conversation with the toaster and licking the walls.

Avoiding Distraction and Burnout 04As much as I have brandished the net as a big distraction, it can also stimulate. I’ve found pictures on Tumblr and Pinterest to add to my pinboard collection that have kicked off a writing frenzy. But everything in moderation.

Except writing.

Writing rules!

Avoiding Distraction and Burnout 02


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© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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