These tips for overcoming distractions while writing at home will help you stay productive and efficient as a freelance writer or novelist. The most important tip for succeeding as a writer is knowing that you are running a business, not playing with your hobby.
If you’re starting your freelance writing career, you’ll find Start & Run a Real Home-Based Business helpful.
When you’re writing at home — even for just an hour or two a day — you’re isolated from the worst parts of work. But, you also have to face a variety of distractions!
I’m earning a living as a full-time freelance writer, and thus have no stinky bus or car commute. I theoretically get more sleep – though truthfully I’m up at 5 am every day because I’m so jazzed about writing 🙂 . There are no coworkers to be friendly to first thing in the morning, no boss looking over my shoulder (except for those editors), and no conflict over who’s turn it is to clean the office kitchen or who stole my favorite coffee mug. It’s always my husband’s fault!
And, here are my tips for staying focused, productive, and inspired to learn how how to deal with writing distractions once and for all…
How to Overcome 3 Common Writing Distractions
1. Isolation. When you’re writing at home – whether freelance, a permanent paid gig, or you’re working on your first or 15th novel – you don’t have colleagues or coworkers to share professional ideas and gossip. There’s less support and camaraderie, which doesn’t necessarily translate to higher productivity. The isolation can lead you to more goofing off, napping, surfing the internet…and before you know it all your writing time is gone, and you’ve only written a paragraph or two.
- Overcoming isolation: Schedule regular lunches, walks, or tennis games – and stick to your allotted time. Some people who work from home need more social contact than others; figure out how often you need to see peers or friends, and build it into your routine. Schedule one or two days a week to work at the local library, coffee shop. If you can write when you think you can’t, you’ll be a more productive writer.
2. No external motivation. Let’s face it: writing without a boss, deadline, or a paycheck as motivation is hard. Some writers are disciplined enough to work on their own; others get distracted by a fly on the wall. Not having an external reason to write is a common writing distraction.
- Overcoming the external motivation problem: Set daily and weekly goals, and be accountable to someone other than your dog for them (dogs are too forgiving). If you’re brutally honest about what you have and have not achieved, you may find yourself working productively. If the writing distractions are too much for you, considering setting up a writing schedule a friend. Get together regularly to write together – your friend doesn’t have to write; he can paint, read, or knit.
3. Friends and family. When they know you’re “just” writing, they’re more likely to call or drop in. Kids may feel free to wander in and out of your work space, or have roaring fights when you’re on the phone with clients. Family may be the most common writing distraction around.
- Overcoming the friends & family problem: Screen your calls and don’t answer personal ones during your work day. Be firm with your kids or partner: you are working and unless their hair is on fire, you’re not to be interrupted. Meet your friends for lunch or walks only during your scheduled break times (if you make exceptions, make sure you’re not permanently disrupted by changes in your routine).
The best way to overcome these – or any – writing distractions is to be aware of what your downfall or weaknesses are. And, resolve to be strict and disciplined with your writing life. The only way to succeed as a writer – freelance magazine writer or bestselling novelist – is to discipline yourself to write as often as possible.
If you find yourself unable to overcome writing distractions, read about the causes of writer’s block.
Soon you won’t be forcing yourself to write, you’ll be forcing yourself not to write.
Fellow scribes, if you any tips on overcoming distractions while writing at home, please share them below!