How to Reduce Distraction in the Digital Age

February 07, 2022 3 min read

By Author Hanna Maxwell

The digital age comes with many pros. Now more than ever, us writers have endless tools at our disposal to improve our craft, organize our notes, outline our manuscripts, and keep our spelling in check. 

Given this, you'd think we would be more prolific than ever. But we are still struggling to produce books, short stories, and even blog posts. So, what's going on here? Why are writers continuing to get blocked?

Enter the cons of the digital age: all of these tools that are designed to help are becoming a part of the problem.

Here are three ways that your gadgets and apps may be hindering your creative process—plus tips on how you can rise above them so you can finish your magnum opus. 

1. Schedule in Down Time

Anyone with a social media account knows how easy it is to lose track of time while mindlessly scrolling. No matter your age, we all have at least one platform that sucks us in. Especially as artists. We have a tendency to get caught up in observing life, being curious about people and the world around us, and expressing our reflections thereafter.

Want advanced tips for reducing distractions, overcoming writer's block, and boosting creative confidence? Book a 1-on-1 consultation with Writing Coach Lyndsay Carder.

We may convince ourselves we’re just checking in, real quick. Then six hours and a bag of gummy bears later, we’re trying to figure out how to productively debate, once again, the burning question of whether pineapple should be featured as a pizza topping while trying to puzzle out how long that potato chip has been clinging tenaciously to the front of our sweatshirt.

Tip: Take a break, preferably outside.

Social media tends to propagate embracing the "hustle," which may have you think you need to power through your day and skip any/all breaks. When we try to do this, we become exhausted, and that's when we reach for our phones and proceed to fall down the gummy bear rabbit hole.

Instead, let me repeat, take a break. Get outside.

Some people have spacious property to take their dogs out for a run, some walk through the city, some seek forested areas and still others walk along a river or around a lake.

The point is to breathe fresh air and disconnect, physically and mentally, from the piece you're working on.

Let it all go for awhile. Leave the phone behind, or at least turned off. If you want to take photos, try bringing an actual camera with you—who knows what exploring a different craft might bring about.

The goal is to balance it all out for better flow. Treat yourself like a human being. 

2. Don't Get Caught Up in Trifling Numbers

This might sound counterintuitive, but consider how much time you spend keeping track of word count and other miscellaneous details that are, ultimately, unimportant.

Consider the effect of the feeling that you are consistently underperforming can have.

I see people posting their word count every day. And, for some, it seems to prove very effective; I won’t deny that. However, for every person who uses word count productively, there are bundles more who end up berating themselves and spiralling into feelings of inadequacy.

Those feelings of inadequacy can seep into your writing project for days, if not longer. If you hit the bottom of this barrel, you might end up thinking you’ll never get out of it. You might end up tucking away your work in progress for “a short break” that turns into years.

Tip: Take time off from looking at your word count or HPD, hours per day, spent writing.

Most importantly though, take time off from celebrating only one type of measurable goal and celebrate every outcome that derives from your efforts. Even if that "outcome" is only that you've shown up again to the page when you didn't want to.

Practice gratitude in small ways. Gratitude is far more productive than self-flagellation will ever be.

3. Pause on the Online Research

The dozens of unread, open tabs are not only overwhelming, but they are filled with mostly unreliable information. This often leaves you having to spend more time checking whether or not the source you want to use is credible than actually doing productive research.

So, declutter your screen. Preserve your sanity. And take a break from it. Concentrate on writing. 

If you need to educate yourself to finish your piece, try going to a library for dedicated research time.

Often, libraries are full of information not found online, which deepens your research and takes it to a level it couldn’t have reached before. You’d be shocked at what you can find. Even if that's only a list of things you want to hit up Google Scholar with later, at least they’ll be original.

Want advanced tips for reducing distractions, overcoming writer's block, and boosting creative confidence? Book a 1-on-1 consultation with Writing Coach Lyndsay Carder.

For more from the author, Hanna Maxwell, click here.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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