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  • Writer's picturemichaelhebler

Writing Tool, "Check," Thinking Cap, "Check," Blinkers..."Umm"

Like reading a book, writing a book is a journey. It demands dedication, commitment, and unwavering focus. In my previous post, I briefly mentioned procrastination. This is a topic that deserves more attention.

Amid the sea of ideas, characters, and plots, distractions can easily steer you into the riptide and pull you out into deep and dangerous waters. However, I have learned to be a good swimmer (which is true both literally and figuratively). So, for this post, I want to explore valuable strategies to help maintain focus and avoid distractions with mindful efficiency. Let's set sail on this journey to discover how to avoid distractions (okay, enough with the ocean references).

1. **Designate a Dedicated Space:**

For me, creating a designated writing space is paramount. Choosing an environment that minimizes interruptions—a room, a corner, or even another space outside your home is what will become your haven. I have two spaces, my home desk, which I can only use at night while the rest of the house is sleeping, and my local library for when the rest of my house is wide awake.

2. **Set Clear Goals:**

Before you begin writing, studying, or trying to find the answers to philosophical questions like, "What is love?" set clear goals. Knowing exactly what you aim to accomplish keeps you focused. For me, it's usually a pivotal scene or a character development milestone, and sometimes, it's as simple as word count. These goals serve as guiding stars throughout the journey. (last sea reference, I promise)

3. **Establish a Routine:**

Routines are one of the most powerful tools to condition your mind to shift you into clarity. Pick a time that works best. Night is my favorite, but whether it's early morning, late night, or during lunch breaks, stick to a consistent schedule. Your mind becomes attuned to this pattern, making it easier to slip into your zone.

4. **Limit Digital Distractions:**

Digital devices can be both a blessing and a curse. While they offer research opportunities, they also provide ample distractions. Consider using website blockers during your sessions or turn off non-essential notifications.

5. **Mindfulness and Meditation:**

Practicing mindfulness and meditation can significantly enhance your ability to concentrate. Spend a few minutes before your sessions centering your thoughts and calming your mind. This mental clarity will translate into improved focus during your writing time. Personally, I need to do this more often.

6. **Stay Accountable:**

If your task is goal-driven, share them with trusted friends, family members, or colleagues. This accountability is a small step that keeps you committed to your targets and less likely to veer off course due to distractions. (Not another sea reference. You can

veer off course on a bicycle too.)

7. **Embrace the Power of Music:**

Yes, yes, yes! Saving the best for last. While writing 'Night of the Chupacabra," I kept the original score for Unforgiven running in the background. For 'Curse," it was The Mexican. For 'Legend," it was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Background music helps maintain concentration, and when that music can relate to your task, it will also influence and inspire. Instrumental or ambient music creates a conducive atmosphere without adding to distractions. Experiment with different types of music to find what works best for you. I do not recommend music with singing. Solo karaoke is a real distraction.

As you take flight on your journey, remember to stay vigilant against distractions. It is key to success. Should you implement these strategies, you'll equip yourself with the powerful tools needed to soar through the creative sky. Remember, the path to completion is one that requires patience, discipline, and a steadfast commitment.

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