A Quick, Easy Way to Write More

Photo credit: Rico-san on Flickr
Here’s the thing about writing: when we writers aren’t writing, most times we’re thinking about writing, or wanting to write, or the WIP we’re currently working on that we want to be writing this instant but aren’t. When we actually sit down to write, however, this weird thing tends to happen.

We suddenly aren’t so sure if we want to write anymore.

Ok, maybe that’s not exactly it: usually upon sitting in front of the keyboard, we still want to write...but we aren’t sure where to start. Or we think we know where to start, but the words are being stubborn and not magically appearing like they’re supposed to.

And so we get distracted. We open up Twitter, or tumblr, or Facebook, and start scrolling through feeds. We watch adorable videos on Youtube and look up old Harry Potter Puppet Pals episodes for fun (no? Just me then? Oh well). Then, before we know it, two hours have passed and we haven’t written a single word.

It’s funny, because while we’re unable to write, there are few things we’d rather do than write. When it actually gets to the writing bit, however, oftentimes it seems we’d rather do anything else than write another word. At least, on the sluggish writing days that’s often how it feels.

The problem isn’t so much that we need an attitude adjustment—it’s that we’re too easily distracted when the words don’t come easily. Luckily, there’s a very easy cure. Three cures, actually.

The first is an app called Freedom, that basically turns off your internet for an allotted time. While I haven’t tried this one (I’ll admit the concept of turning off the internet even just for a short time terrifies me), I’ve heard that the only way to turn the internet back on once you’ve set it is to wait for the time to end. While this sounds like some medieval punishment, it does effectively block distractions and allow you to focus on your writing.

The second cure is an online app called Write or Die. I’ve written about it’s awesomeness before, so I’m not going to repeat myself, but it is absolutely fantastic.

The third cure isn’t an app—it’s a feature available on just about every program and it’s called fullscreen. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

It seems almost obvious, but writing in fullscreen has proven time and time again to be a great way for me to really focus on what I’m writing. The rule is just that you don’t exit fullscreen mode until you’ve finished your writing sprint. Or else.

For those of you who use Pages or Scrivener, I’ve found that I particularly like their fullscreen options because it blocks out everything but the document on the screen (rather than stretching the document into oversize mode), which makes it very easy to focus. Even without the nice isolation effect, however, I’ve found that writing in fullscreen can really help to force you to write without getting distracted. And all it takes is a click of a button.

Have you tried writing in fullscreen mode? Did you find it helped? What other tips do you have for cutting distractions out of your writing time?

19 comments:

Cat York said...

I use both pages and scrivener (just started my trial for scrivener - totally into it) ... and the full screen option sounds like a good idea. Commitment!

Katja Rinne said...

Just to make it a bit harder for you, this started playing in my head: http://youtu.be/PTsSk0r_Tq8

Ava Jae said...

You're exactly right about commitment. Fullscreen mode forces you to pay attention to the writing and literally block everything else out, which is exactly what we need sometimes.


Also, Scrivener is awesome.

Sarah Anne Foster said...

The beginning of this post describes me perfectly. I've never tried full screen before, sounds like a good plan! Turning off the internet sounds scary, especially when I go to thesaurus.com every five seconds while writing...

Imogen Elvis said...

I haven't found the need for Freedom yet, but I have used Write or Die during NaNoWriMo and I found it a great help. My biggest help has been to make my computer work only. When I want to look at random things, I do it on my tablet, and if that's out of sight, shut in a drawer, I'm not tempted to play with it instead of writing. Incentives really help me too.

Ava Jae said...

Using your computer solely for work is a really smart way to handle it. Incentives are also a great suggestion--every bit of motivation helps! :)

Daniel Swensen said...

Fullscreen is the only way I write. Too many distractions otherwise. :)

Al Diaz said...

I lost internet connection for real for four days. The anxiety was such that it made difficult to write. Should that be a medical condition?

Ava Jae said...

Silly me for not thinking of the fullscreen strategy ages ago. It's so simple, but it helps tremendously.

Ava Jae said...

I'm pretty sure internet addiction has been officially documented...

Ava Jae said...

Yeah, turning off the internet definitely scares me, and it doesn't work while using Write or Die as that's an online app. But fullscreen mode has worked out to be a safe compromise for me that's just as effective (as long as you have enough self control not to exit fullscreen mode prematurely, that is...)

Robin Red said...

Yes, fullscreen is how I jump in without distractions. Even my pretty desktop background is distracting. I keep thinking "Ooh colors". As for the Internet, my router malfunctioned for the past week. My only Internet connection came directly from an ethernet cord plugged into the modem, which meant the only way I could go online was to sit in the hot storage room. That kept me away for a while hehehe.

Colin_Kerr said...

The computer I use at work boots to a text-mode console, and when I log in, it automatically opens a text editor, which asks which of my current projects I might like to open. If I exit that, and start up a windowing system, it likewise opens a window with the same text editor pestering me about the same files. It's like the Vegas room from that William Gibson story.


That's not to say I'm anything like disciplined; there's a man around the corner who is paid ruin my day if he catches me trying to read an unauthorized web page. Home is a totally different story.

Grace Robinson said...

And here I thought I was the only one who had that problem of "thinking about writing all day until I actually sit down to write." :-P Great suggestions! I feel silly for not thinking of the full screen option - so simple! I'll give it a try.

Ava Jae said...

You're absolutely not the only one. I can't speak for everyone but it at least happens to me plenty of times.


Glad to hear you found the suggestions helpful! Let me know how fullscreen mode works out for you. :)

Ava Jae said...

Interesting! I could imagine it'd be somewhat easier to focus on writing if your computer booted up with a text editor at the ready. Plus having someone waiting to catch you distracted is a pretty good motivator to focus...

Ava Jae said...

The joys of a faulty internet connection. Bright side is you don't need the internet to write. :)

Paul said...

Due to my laptop burning out after an hour and shutting down automatically (which worked as quite a useful "write or die" type thing), I either work on my girlfriends Mac or her old laptop. The old laptop stays on for as long as I need, but, due to a fault, cannot pick up any internet. It is the perfect writing tool. When I'm sitting at that laptop, I can do nothing but write. Literally, nothing. If I don't write, I'm just sitting, staring at a wall, and writing is far more interesting than that. When my girlfriend now offers me her Mac to work on, I say 'Are you insane, woman? The internet is there and YouTube videos of dancing dogs and people falling over and stuff. I have to work!"

Of course, I am not saying break your own laptop, but, switching off the internet is a great first step to actually putting some of those pesky words down.

Ava Jae said...

Funny how technology can occasionally force us to focus. It sounds like you have the perfect distraction-free writing device. If it works for you, I'd definitely hang on to it. :)

Post a Comment

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...