Do you ever find yourself browsing the web and checking your social media feed instead of getting your writing tasks done as efficiently as possible?
You’re not alone. Countless freelance writers have been there before you.
You look at a blank page and somehow you just can’t bring yourself to fill it with your writing. This is when your eyes dart to other parts of your screen and you lose yourself in distractions.
Don’t get frustrated with yourself, we’re all prone to getting distracted.
Instead, of forcing yourself, why not consider this…
Sometimes distraction brings forward spectacular ideas. How often do your best ideas come not from where you were looking, but from something you’ve stumbled upon by accident or seen out of the corner of your eye?
That’s right, distraction can make writers more creative.
Your tendency towards distraction can become valuable for your creative process – but only as long as you learn how to manage it. Here are some good reasons why you should embrace distraction and ways to help you make the most from it for your writing.
Why you should not avoid distraction
It boosts creativity
This quality of distraction relies on its tendency to direct our attention in a particular way. Psychologists claim that people who achieve success in creative fields have a type of “leaky attention”.
This means that while they’re concentrating on one thing, they’re still receiving other information that can potentially be very useful in a long-term perspective. Picking up a wide range of accidental information, these people are able to exploit their mental style in rich environments that lead to creativity boosts.
It helps to develop new ideas
Distractions can work to your advantage at the initial phase of idea generation. Having this type of leaky mind can become a real strength in this stage of your writing.
Expose yourself to as much information noise as possible. Put yourself in situations where distractions are imminent. For instance, try working in a cafe where the constant buzz and occasional sound of conversation enter your stream of thought.
Choose public transport and take your headphones off. Go to parties and listen to five conversations happening around you while trying to conduct your own.
Doing all this will improve your chances at coming up with the very idea you’ve been waiting for. Leave your mind open and allow yourself to be immersed in your surroundings. Don’t force yourself to focus on thinking about your next big idea.
Enter the execution mode
Now that you’ve got some brilliant ideas on your mind, it’s time to switch to the execution mode. At this point, focus becomes crucial. Leaky mind isn’t a strength now and you need to do everything to force yourself to stay concentrated on the work in front of you.
This is the moment when you should avoid working in public places. Cafes or open space offices are out of the question.
Take cue from Jonathan Franzen – who would keep himself locked in an empty room with noise-canceling headphones. This is how he managed his leaky mind – and it definitely worked for him!
Manage your workload
At this writing stage, it’s smart to reduce the number of different tasks on your agenda. Try to avoid fluctuating between activities – you’re likely to experience the non-productive type of distraction that catches up with us between different projects.
Create a schedule and stick to it. Set specific periods of time to focus on a single thing. Make sure to factor in breaks, otherwise, you risk falling victim to distraction born out of exhaustion.
One thing is clear – you should do your best to avoid social media feeds or any kind of online interactive activity. You don’t want to be chatting with friends about random topics when you’ve got other writing to do.
To train your memory, try online working memory exercises based on juggling information in your mind over short periods of time. Research shows that this type of exercises helps to control your attentional focus.
Use apps that help to disconnect from the web. Here are some examples of apps which are just perfect for freelance writers who want to improve their time management skills and make the most from every minute they spend writing.
If you’re struggling to write, try an app called The Most Dangerous Writing App. But do it with caution – this app deletes what you’ve written if you fail to write fast enough.
Remember, though: Don’t try to fix your leaky mind at all cost – you don’t want to lose your creativity, do you?
All the above should help you to benefit from distractions and take advantage of your scatterbrained state to come up with great ideas and become a more creative writer. Use these tips to manage your distracted state and you’ll be on your way to tapping into its potential for boosting creativity.
This post was written by Emily Burgess, an avid blogger who enjoys writing about all aspects of improving a business, be it marketing, customer service or training. Emily is currently sharing some of her ideas at Course Guru – experts in the field of online education. Personally, she’s a great fan of foreign languages.