How To Write More With Fewer Distractions
Like many of you, I suffer from not wanting to write or being distracted by the world. I have created this little guide to help me, and I want to share it as I'm sure many of you suffer too. Please feel free to share your techniques below as well.
Use Earplugs or Headphones Don't listen to your favorite music or any music with words as they distract you. Listen to things like ocean waves or rain as it helps you focus. Some people like brainwave music like Brain.fm but it makes me feel buzzed and sleepy, and it's not recommended for people under 25 as their brains are not fully developed, but some people swear by it. Having Headphones on is also great if you work in public places as it cues people to leave you alone. You'll be amazed by how things like the fridge and birds chirping can be distracting. Earbuds remove all the little noises that surround you, and it helps to put you in your little world to focus. Everyone is different, so it's best to see what works for you.
Cold Turkey Use Cold Turkey Website Blocker. If you have no self-control what so ever then use Cold Turkey to block web sites while you work. This is the easy way out, but I have other options below.
Close the Blinds and Windows I thought it was going to be great to be able to work while looking out my window to see all the happy people walking buy. Instead, it was a big distraction looking at people and their dogs. Learning that the same damn guy comes out at the same time to wave to me creeps me out and distracts me. Now – out of sight out of mind.
Delete Distracting Bookmarks Do you need to have Facebook bookmarked? Are you ever going to forget it ever existed? Delete bookmarks that you know you'll never forget. If you must have bookmarks then store them in many folders on your bookmarks bar, the harder it is to get to it the less likely you use it when working.
Write in Full-Screen Mode When you write in full-screen mode make sure to increase the font size to a large font number. Why are you tormenting yourself with 10pt or 12pt font? Plus, writing big makes it feel like you have written a lot and makes you want to keep writing as you're on a roll. The Full-Screen Mode blocks out useless things and brings the focus to what you're writing.
Remove Clocks We have way too many clocks in our lives. Clocks make you worry for no good reason. When you remove clocks from around you and work in full screen, you forget the time, and you stop worrying about getting XYZ done. This puts you in the zone and the next thing you know its 2 hours later, and you got a lot done. I have removed clocks from view in my home and use Calendar Reminders to pop up when it's time to do something else. Clocks are the ultimate distraction.
Turn Off Spell Check When You Write When you write, don't worry about checking spelling and editing the post until after lunch. It's best to have Spell Check and Grammar Check off when you write as they're distractions. Writing is creative, and editing is logical, both are different sides of the brain and switching to logic kills the creative side.
Stop Notifications Remove Notifications from Email and keep it from Popping Up. Create hoops you have to jump through if you want to do something fun. Like having the "Fun Computer" off while you work on the "Work Computer." You're less likely to stop working and use the fun computer if you got to wait for it to boot up. Our brains take the easy road every time. Unplug things like the TV and quitting programs creates hoops for us to jump through. The more hoops we have to jump through to do something fun the less likely we'll want to do them when it's working time.
Phone Put Phone on Silent and in another room or turn it off. Most phones have a distraction free mode, but if someone keeps calling over and over it will ring. You want to block out annoying calls and not emergency calls.
Work Only Computer If you can have a computer that is only for work and has no distractions or bookmarks on it, then that would be best. For the interesting way to do this, you can use a Linux distro Live CD of Slitaz Linux. Keep a Flash drive for your documents you write and run the Live CD, but don't install it as it will wipe everything you have on your computer. By running the Live CD, you have a fresh new computer every time with nothing saved on it or distractions, and you have everything you need with Silztaz Linux – plus its a super lightweight OS and doesn't need much. In fact, if you have an old computer that drags along with Windows then run Slitaz Linux on it, it will feel new again and use that as your writing computer. You could even buy an old beat up windows computer on craigslist and use that and install Slitaz on for distraction free writing.
Use A Mac Quite honestly use a Mac. This is not a Mac vs. PC thing, but the Mac has some crazy good features built in. I can write in fullscreen, and all I see is the words and no menus or anything. The text to speech is a keystroke away which makes checking my writing easier. Taking a screen shot is easier as it's a keystroke away too. No annoying balloon pop-ups. No need for photoshop as the Mac comes with many of the features for free. Like I can resize a bunch of images at once using Preview. Also in Preview, you can remove the background of images just like you can in Photoshop. Even the word processor it comes with allows you to make simple graphics for logos for your websites with ease. Even a used Mac would be fine, but don't buy one unless you can afford it as a cheap Windows PC will get the job done, I recommend hiding the taskbar as it can be a distraction. Even the basic Slitaz on a $20 Craigslist computer will be okay and get the job done.
Clear your desk of stuff A clear desk leads to a clear mind.
Get up early and write in the morning Most people only have 4 good hours a day, and it's early in the morning, to get stuff done before they crash. Usually, after lunch people crash and don't want to do much. This is when you do boring logical stuff like edit post or get backlinks.
Set a goal If I don't write 2 posts a day I feel like shit, but the feeling of being done with 2 posts is a great feeling. After I get those post done, I'm free to do whatever I want. I crave that feeling every day as it's a release of dopamine. You don't get that release unless you have completed a goal.
Write an outline Spill everything you need to say on the Notepad or Text Editor. This way you cover all you need to say and helps make some points about the topic. When researching a keyword(s) have the outline open next to the web browser.
Have a Todo list This doesn't work for everyone, but sometimes it's nice to list out what you have to do for the day and check it off. What does work for me is to have a calendar on my computer that reminds me to do something at a particular time? Set aside blocks on your calendar devoted to that thing. With a calendar, you block in the writing time just like you would with a doctor's appointment.
Have a huge list of keywords I find it easier to have my list of keywords I'm going to write about already in hand. I use the keywordshitter to grab them and go through each one to find a good one to go after. Once done with that keyword, I erase it and move on. I keep going until there is nothing to delete. Then I start again.
Stop worrying about word count The biggest reason people don't feel like writing is that they think they have to write 3k words or more. This whole thing of "best practice" to write as many words as possible is utter bullshit! All it's doing is creating people that word stuff a post, so what can be said in one sentence gets stretched out to 5. What you need to do instead is write to a "Points Made" count. Having a goal to write a post that gives 10 points made is far better than writing to 2K words. I can write 2k words of gibberish but to make 10 points or 10 facts or 10 value added is much harder to dick my way through. If you don't know what I mean by Points Made then look at each Heading of this post – each one is a point that is being made. I'm giving advice or facts that people can use and not state boring things like "the blender is blue" or "the reviews of the people on Amazon say it's good".
Stop writing like you're in skool No, a paragraph is not 5 sentences. A paragraph can be one sentence or even one word if it makes sense. Keep sentences short and never use big words. Write like you're in the 7th grade or even in the 5th grade. Some programs will help you with this, but I don't like them as writing is creative and not so cut and dry that a machine can check it.
Editing Use a Spell and Grammar Checker like Grammarly. Don't go crazy with it, just have it fix the obvious errors. The best thing you can do is to have the computer read what you wrote back to you. Most computers have this feature in accessibility. If not then Google it, I think even Google translate has a text to speech for you. Don't be afraid to go back and remove words, sentences or even whole paragraphs. If it doesn't make sense or sound right then don't keep it.
You Eat at the Wrong Time Avoid eating a big meal before writing. It's best to write when you're hungry or fasting. When fasting, your brain becomes more active because it wants food, and as a hunter, you're looking for the next meal, but the hunt is your writing. As soon as you eat, especially big meals, your body shuts down thinking as it got what it needed. You become lazy and don't want to do anything except relax and play on Reddit and YouTube. When I say fasting I mean don't eat anything after 8 PM. When you wake up, get to work right away, and you can start to eat again after lunch time. One side effect is that you could lose weight and what it does is make you more self-aware of your eating habit and how it distracts you from doing stuff. This also makes you more aware of other things that distract you from writing. I'm not saying to starve yourself – if you get thirsty drink water or coffee if that is what you like. If you feel light headed eat some crackers. But I'm not a doctor so you can take my advice with a grain of salt, or you can research more about this intermittent fasting. All I can say is that it helps me focus more as I have noticed I become useless after eating lunch or big meals.
Don't Think About Useless Things Have your meals and what you plan on wearing already laid out. I heard this from Alex Becker where he shows that he has his outfit for the morning already picked out and what he's going to eat. Don't waste precious brain power picking out what shirt matches your shoes. This is why Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg always wore the same thing every day; they got bigger issues to worry about. If you work from home, then get dressed like you're going to work, even put shoes and a belt on. Being comfortable means you're at home, and you don't want that. Working is not comfortable and being in discomfort is how you know you're at work and makes coming home worth it, you need this separation.
Start Fast finish slowly Sometimes just writing that first paragraph is all you need to do. If you're stumped just write the paragraph and stop and do something else. Your mind will start to work on the article in the back of your head, and you'll develop ideas and as soon as they come to you write them down. Some of your best writing will come from the start fast finish slow method because it will be so well thought out. One tip is to keep a waterproof notepad in the shower to write things down as this is the place where the back of your mind comes to life.
**25 min ** Some people swear by the Pomodoro effect of setting a timer for 25 minutes and just working straight through it. After the 25 minutes, you set the timer for 5 minutes and do whatever you want like check email or Facebook. Then after that, you set the timer again for 25 minutes and go to work. I'm not a fan of this as I don't know how long an article is going to take and usually when I have started I don't want to stop the flow. This is why I like the start fast finish slowly because if a post is not working, I'll come back to it. You can't time the creative process. I think we forget that writing is creative and not logical.
Stop thinking logically and start thinking creatively If you're just hammering out the same old affiliate boring shit content, then you're killing yourself with boredom. It's okay to write about other stuff; this is sometimes forgotten. It's good to have content that is not some boring review about a product you never touched. It's good to have content that is talking about your niche or handy tips or even answer some questions for people and even how-to's. I like to think about it like this. If Amazon was to take it all away would I still have a functioning site? If all my post are review post about products from Amazon or any affiliate program, do I really have a site? Without the affiliate program can my site stand on its own? If I have other content that can stand on its own, then I can find other ways to monetize it if shit did hit the fan. You can't build sites by using a template; you need to be creative. Being creative creates new things that people want to come back for. It's that real human traffic that you want as you can always find ways to make money off that. Being a boring affiliate site that offers no real value is a sure way to screw yourself over.
Stop following "Best Practices" The guru's don't know the best way. There is no best way or cheatsheet. What works for one will more then like not work for another. Every niche is different, and there are no steps to follow to become rich. Once again you must be creative and figure things out.
Problem Solver When writing don't forget to be a problem solver. Why are people searching the internet? Because they have a problem, and they want an answer. They only care about themselves so remember you're nothing to them and you must give them everything and most of the time you must do it for free. You want them to feel like they owe you for giving them all this free info. You want them to trust you, and the best way to do that is to give them free stuff. Solve their problem, and they'll buy what you're selling. Why else are you reading this but to only gain something from it? I have given you so much free stuff that I have gotten from books that I had to pay for. Countless Days of research and I placed it here for free for you in a convenient way. I bet I could have placed an ebook at the bottom and many of you would have bought it because of all the info I gave. This is how your post should be, given so much to them that they feel like they owe you.
Read books How can I write more/better? I've had several people ask me what the trick is to write more or better? Well, I researched the hell out of it and read a lot of books. I wanted to learn it and got tired of waiting on people to tell me. I'm still learning. I guess the biggest takeaway is not to be afraid to teach yourself.
Stop trying to be perfect Most people will gloss over your mistakes or won't even care. They just care about themselves and what they can learn. Your first site is going to be crap, just accept it and move on.
Stop the mental masturbation It's easy to get lost in finding that one book or that one YouTube video that will get you where you need to be. I'm sorry to tell you this, but you'll never find that one book or video that will kick you into gear. Trust me I'm still looking for it. In the end, you just got to do it. But don't stop learning. Know when you're mental masturbating for too long and stop. Learn some self-control and learn to be more self-aware.
Fancy Software You don't need that fancy software for checking keywords. Those programs are made by people who "think" they know how things work and often use metrics made by people who "think" they know too. No one knows. The secret is to try a bunch of stuff and see what works and then develop your idea of what you "think" works, but you'll be wrong too as its always changing. A lot of those programs are just mental masturbation that is having you chasing metrics that end up failing you even though it said the keyword was easy and it wasn't, and you just wasted all that time.
Overall Just write and stop being a little b1tch. Yes, it sucks. No there is not a magic button. Just start. If you're not in discomfort, then you're not doing it right. It sucks to write and to put yourself in pain will help and get you better. If you feel like not writing, then don't. Sometimes you just don't have it in you. You're not a machine. If you don't want to write every day then you're a little b1tch – someone had to say it. Get over yourself and write that first paragraph so you can finish slow.
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How To Write More With Fewer Distractions