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How do I write faster? Remove distractions

Write faster by tidying your desk

Do you need to increase your speed? Just over halfway through NanoWriMo 2017, a lot of writers will be wishing they could write faster. The word count just isn’t going up enough for the amount of time they’re putting in.

The difficultly with writing is that there are a lot of things going on in your head, especially if, like me, you’re a ‘pantser’ style writer. You have to keep characters, plot points and chapter structure all in there. At the same time you need to remember grammatical rules, styles and spellings. It’s a lot, and a lot of human brains (mine included) struggle with this.

So, it’s strange that it is still difficult for writers to concentrate. It’s probably because, as I said before, there’s no such thing as an isolated writer. Distractions come from everywhere. So it’s more important than ever to effectively remove distractions around you. At times of great pressure, be that NanoWriMo, deadlines or the time you squeeze in before the baby wakes up, this skill gains importance.

If you’re not careful, you’ll end up in a situation I recognise very well. The washing up is done, the house is tidy and that phone call has been completed, but that word count? It turns out you might be busy, but you’re not productive.

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You need help. And that’s what I’m here for. Below you can see the top 3 distractions that people fall victim to when they are trying to write faster.

Distraction #1: Pursuit of other people’s success

A race - because chasing other people's success doesn't help you write fasterYou will probably know someone who can push out stories quicker than you ever though possible. I know a couple. It’s dizzying, sometimes, to see the amount of work that they can get through. Worrying about what other writers are doing is a massive distraction! Remove it!

You might be able to hear the writer in the coffee shop next to you typing away, or you might be able to see someone on Facebook boasting about their word count. This is all demoralising and will serve no purpose other than to have you feeling rotten and unproductive. So, before you start writing, take action. Make a conscious choice to ignore other writers for the time you’re going to write. By not worrying about others you will be able to write faster.

Distraction #2: Messy desk, messy mind


What’s your work area look like right now?

Before you start writing, you should make sure that your workspace is clear of distractions. If you have books everywhere, at some point you’re going to pick one up and have a read. If there’s a particularly amusing picture of your significant other, you might gaze at them lovingly ten minutes.

All of this mess is stopping you writing! So, before you put another word on paper, clean it up. It won’t take long, and it need not be a permanent fix. Just get it out of your eyeline. Just while you’re writing. Then it can all go back, if you can face it.

Distraction #3: Your phone

You must have known this was coming. Your phone is the single biggest hindrance to you actually getting some writing done. If you can see it, then every other thought will be about checking it. Your phone might be the biggest connection you have to the outside world, but it’s also the biggest distraction. Nothing good every came from idly flicking through your phone when there’s a project open in front of you. Facebook can wait. Twitter can wait. In fact, all of it can wait.

Try turning your phone off. Just for a half hour. See if anything happens (it won’t). Wasn’t that freeing? Now, turn it off again and write! I’m positive you’ll be able to write faster after it’s no longer there.

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