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How To Create A Distraction Free Writing Environment


by Jennifer on May 30, 2012

This is a guest post from Matthew Day of Words Beyond The Lines

Seems like every time I sit down to write, dozens of distractions begin to call out my name. People walk through the room, Skype goes off, and suddenly I realize that I am thirsty.

To really get down to writing, you almost have to create your own little distraction proof bubble. Actually, creating this type of bubble isn’t that hard and you can do it virtually anywhere.

Setting up a distraction free writing environment involves three primary steps:

1) Fix up your work space so that you won’t need to get up. Make sure your seat is comfortable, fill up a tall glass of water, etc. It is amazing how seemingly little things like getting up to go to the bathroom can disrupt your train of thought.

2) Lock down the computer with a distraction free writing program such as writer.bighugelabs.com. I choose this one because it is web-based and easy to use, but there are others available as well. Just Google “distraction free writing environment.”

Don’t forget to disable instant messengers during this step. I forgot to do that while writing this post. I had barely begun writing before people started Skyping me.

3) Turn on some music. The noise blocks everything else from my mind and helps me to focus. I take it a step further and use headphones. I have actually noticed a difference between the effect of speakers and headphones, and for me the headphones do a better job of shielding my thoughts from distractions.

Also, the act of putting the headphones on is a bit like a signal to my brain telling it to go into writing mode.

One final tip is to take a walk when your mind starts to clog up. I know I said earlier to avoid anything that would cause you to get up from your desk. The difference is that while distractions take your mind off of writing, getting up to take a walk away from any distractions can help you to clear your mind and organize your thoughts.

Key phrase: “Away from any distractions.”

This is what works for me. Your bubble make look a bit different. Experiment and see what works for you.

What does your writing bubble look like?

About the Author: Matthew Day began his writing career at the age of 8, writing construction paper “books.” Today he encourages writers to think outside of the box through his blog wordsbeyondthelines.com

Image courtesy of underminingme

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eliza May 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I’m lucky enough to live in a house with a small, very quiet room in the basement. when I actually get myself down there to write I can be surprisingly productive. It’s the getting there that hurts, especially because it feels a little bit like descending into a dungeon. But for any situation where I intend to get a lot done I need three things: fresh cup of coffee, water bottle, chapstick. Then I can get to work.

2 Louise Behiel May 31, 2012 at 6:42 am

Interesting. I’d never get anything done if I sat in a quiet space like this. Mind you, I live alone, so I control the noise and sensory input from my house.

3 Tyrean June 1, 2012 at 9:45 am

Great post! I get up earlier than the rest of my family, and use the quiet hours of the morning for my writing, and I pick a corner in the dance studio lobby (my kids dance) and write, essentially blocking out everything else with my imagination.

4 Amelia June 7, 2012 at 12:01 am

I need help.
Though these are helpful, I’m still stuck and I think it’s more than just distraction. I’ve been embracing writing for about a year, if you were to look back at me a year ago I could write for hours and hours and never run out of steam. Then after a while I started to loose touch with inspiration and what not because of school. It’s summer again and I’d like nothing more than to sit down at my computer and get that spark that used to be my writing motivator. Any suggestions on how to get a midset fixed?

5 Heather June 10, 2012 at 10:09 am

Helpful suggestions – thanks for the article. I too created a space in my basement to write, but this space only works when I’m truly focused. There are times I have to change locations just to mix it up a bit. : )

Amelia, I go through the same thing at times – all writers do, so don’t feel you’re alone in writers block. Sometimes I have limitless focus, and at other times, because I’m trying to fit writing in wherever I can in my schedule, my focus can be almost zero and I become very unproductive. Try writing in different places (your home, at the library, at a local coffee shop, in a park, etc) to see if you get inspiration in different places – sometimes a change in scenery does wonders. If you’re working on a story, and you can’t push past a scene, try jumping ahead in the story to a section that you’re excited to write. It might also help to journal about what is on your mind, what might be holding you back – sometimes journaling leads into some creative writing. If you don’t have “a story” that you’re working on, start creating lists – I keep a file of topics that I’d like to incorporate into future stories. Sometimes in doing this you can spark a creative scene or get some strong ideas to launch into. Lastly, I strongly recommend the National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org) and Camp NaNoWriMo (campnanowrimo.org) challenges. Not only do these events provide a writing deadline, but there is a huge support community through the NaNoWriMo website message boards. Joining is free and the boards stay up most of the year. Camp NaNoWriMo is already in progress for Jun 2012, but you could join late in the process, you’d just have to get caught up. There’s another session in Aug 2012 as well.

Best of luck with your writing. : )

6 Matthew Day June 12, 2012 at 10:35 am

Amelia, I totally understand. Feeling unmotivated has been one of my biggest obstacles (even when I feel inspired). Heather offered a lot of good suggestions. I plan on doing National Novel Writing Month myself.
One thing I might add is that I’ve noticed sometimes just getting started is enough to get me over the procrastination hump. Forcing yourself to start is the hard part.
Also, never underestimate the power of free-writing. Even if all you can write about is how hard it is to write and all the reasons you can’t seem to get started and how you really wish you could get your story started (yes, I’ve done this before), it helps to get the brain juices flowing (like morning stretches–only for your brain).

Hope this helps. =)

7 Andrew Toynbee June 20, 2012 at 3:30 am


Great article.
I’m with you on the headphones thing – it really does shut out the world and help to intensify the focus on that little screen before me. I always listen to non-lyrical music (soundtracks, dramatic sound from Immediate Music, Amethystium, ERA and the like) so that my mind doesn’t get drawn into the song.
As I spend most of my week away from home and in hotels, I have to create my bubble anew every Monday. Setting out my Netbook upon its cooler, plugging in the charger and preparing coffee and biscuits (not too many though!) form a sort of physical mantra prior to writing.

8 Andy February 12, 2013 at 11:39 am

Mine looks like a comfortable chair away from my desk and an actual pen and paper. I find writing by hand especially effective during a first draft–I can’t be distracted by email and it makes it easier to avoid editing while I should be writing.

9 Company Of Heroes 2 Trainer July 1, 2013 at 3:05 am

I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the structure of your website?
Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or
two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

10 Jennifer July 1, 2013 at 8:55 am

@Company Thanks for the suggestions. I’m actually revamping the site very soon and moving it to a new URL.

11 Ana August 6, 2013 at 10:03 am

I love this on my laptop, since i now do a lot of typin on my phone while treanlivg how long do you think it will be before one comes out on the android app store? Will it be there in time for NaNoWriMo 2012?

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