Creativity #48 - Best Practices to Deal with DISTRACTIONS!

The sad but true nature of this fast-paced life that most of us live now is that it's very hard not to get distracted. We are living with roommates, spouses and significant others. Some of us have children, plus we have these things called phones which we have with us all the time that ring, ping, whistle and tweet, distracting us any given moment in time. Plus we have life worries like: How can I pay the rent? How can I get out of this terrible job? and, How can I really get my writing OUT INTO the world? Life is just one big distraction and if you have mild ADD like me, distractions are literally ALL THE TIME.

So how do you limit distractions so you can finally finish that play?

1. Set up distraction free time to work.

I know it's hard but find and schedule an hour a day or an hour every two days to write. Shut off your phone, close the door turn on your computer or break out your yellow legal pad and start to write. Mark this appointment down in your calendar and make it a big must of an event - an hour every day or every two days and then write, write, write. Know that this appointment to write is UNBREAKABLE (and if you do break it - you have to pay me $100 - HA HA!!) PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR AND MAKE IT A MUST DO!!!

Another idea might be to tell everyone you know you will be unavailable for the weekend - and then take the whole weekend to give yourself a writing retreat. Get up early. Write. Nap, then write. Go for a run, then write but set up a timetable for your retreat and stick to it. If you are living with someone and they don't understand - go away for the weekend - just say you are going on a writer's retreat and rent a nice hotel somewhere and dive into your work. Give it a whirl!

2. Use Technology to help you out.

Use a "Pomodoro Timer" on you computer or phone to keep you on track. A "Pomodoro Timer" is an application that rings every 25 minutes, then rings 5 minutes later, and the repeats 25,5,25,5 and on and on. The technique is this: You set the timer and you work for 25 minutes straight with no distractions. Then you stop and rest for five minutes. You go to the bathroom and get something to drink. You stretch. Then "DING" you start again - 25 minutes and then you rest for five and on and on and on. This is a great way to keep you focused on your writing.

Use the FIRST THING application. (If you have a Mac, you can get it on the Mac App store.)

This is a little application that puts the FIRST THING you need to do in a corner of your computer desktop so it keeps reminding you to get it done. You can also just put a word doc open on your desktop with that ONE THING on it. I know this sounds SOPHOMORIC but if you are distracted easily, it works! You are constantly reminded to get that one thing done.

3. Learn to Meditate.

What? How will this help me and my distractions?

The nature of most meditation - be it "Transcendental" or a "Walking" meditation, is to focus on ONE THING - a chant, a mantra, your breath, or your walking. The more you do it - honestly, believe me on this one,THE MORE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO FOCUS COMPLETELY ON YOUR WRITING. Try it.

Find a meditation class or a good teacher and get focused!

4. Give yourself a crazy deadline with SEVERE consequences if you don't make it.

One of the best ways to get so focused and UNDISTRACTED on a writing project is to have a BIG REASON WHY!

The better the reason and the bigger the deadline consequences are, the more focused you will be. Tell 5 friends if you don't finish the first draft of your play by X date, you will give them each $100! And put it in writing! That will keep you focused!

Hope all this helps!

I want to see your next play submitted here soon at Manhattan Rep!

Posted on August 29, 2015 .