5 Quick Ways to Minimize Distractions and Get Writing

Today we have a guest post from Alexis MacDonald for your reading pleasure. Alexis is not a member of the #fridayflash community, but her excitement to write a guest post for us and the wonderful content she provided have quickly sealed the deal. I am pleased to present to you her article detailing 5 Quick Ways to Minimize Distractions and Get Writing. We are all writers here and let’s face it – we all need to read this advice, maybe even more than once.

~ Estrella Azul


5 Quick Ways to Minimize Distractions and Get Writing

There are times in our lives that no matter how diligent we are about setting aside private time to write, life insists on getting in the way. Here are a few tips to help writers roll with the metaphorical punches and get some words down!

1. Self-discipline

Make writing a habit. Write at the same time every day. Write throughout the day. Read a page about writing and then write a paragraph.

2. Disengagement

As writers, we do not need to be connected to others every minute of the day. We know that in order to focus, we need to disengage ourselves from our social life.

• Install a door. There are limits to what a door can do. In spite of their best intentions, family members tend to neglect to respect this impediment and will knock and open it anyway. But the door will diminish the recent movie rental or stereo playing in the family room.

• Telephones. Ring tones and vibrations are extremely distracting. If you have a mobile phone, arrange it so that it does not ring, a light merely flashes. Set it off to one side and in either case, merely glance at the caller ID and unless it is an emergency, ignore it. As long as someone else is at home who can answer it, do not answer the phone at your writing desk.

• The Social Internet. It should not have to be said that in order to better focus, a writer should be self-disciplined enough to have turned off all their social applications that would vie for attention. There are programs to download that help writer’s monitor their time and block out social sites but why would a disciplined writer resort to using these programs? On the other hand, having the Internet up is important for research.

3. Nutrition and hydration

It is important to be energetic yet be calm enough to focus. Did you know that the lack of calcium causes mental depression or that iodine is a mental energizer? Besides salt, iodine is found in peppers, kelp, and raw goat milk. Although coffee and alcohol are commonly connected to writers, water, green tea, and organic fruit juices help maintain hydration and energize the mind. There are also over-the-counter eye drops that help moisturize dry, weary eyeballs.

4. Music

Because writers are creative people, many are also musicians and artists. Some writers cannot work while listening to music with lyrics because they tend to concentrate on the lyrics while others who play instruments cannot listen to music at all. Some need white noise in the background in order to write. Be aware of this and use whatever helps you get the job done. Ear plugs can help but, some people strain to listen to the outside world even more when they use them.


If the above tips failed to help, this next one – while seemingly a detractor, might actually remedy the situation.

5. Be in a noisy, busy environment

Going to a place like a mall or a coffee shop where there are people and noise all around you can be freeing. There are times when an overly busy environment actually helps one block out individual distractions and concentrate better. Along those lines, being around other writers who are engaged in their writing can really get you cracking on your own project.



About the author:

Alexis MacDonald is a stay at home mom, midnight scribbler and a freelance pregnancy writer. She answers questions such as “how do you get pregnant” (hint, it’s more complex than you think – for instance: there’s a fertility calendar…) :)


Guest Post (6 Posts)

We would love to have more guest posts! Will you write one? If you have any ideas or proposals that you think would improve the public presence of FFDO please don’t hesitate to send them to either editor Estrella Azul or founder Jon Strother. You can contact Estrella at estrella.azul@fridayflash.org, and Jon at jmstro@fridayflash.org with your questions, comments, or suggestions.


  1. Profile photo of JM Strother
    JM Strother says:

    Some great advice here, Alexis. Thanks for sharing it. I use classical music, played very low, while writing. I am definitely in the No Lyrics crowd. I have never tried your last tip, writing in a very busy location. Somehow I don’t think that would work for me, though it seems to have worked out fine for JK Rowling.

  2. KjM says:

    Self-discipline? Ah, well then, oops. Perhaps I should try another career. :D

    These are very good suggestions, some of which I’d already put into practice. The machine on which I do most of my writing doesn’t have email configured and I don’t have any Twitter clients installed either. I also try to minimize the use of the browser(s) on it – with varying degrees of success.

    Like Jon, lyrics are a huge problem for me. My mind latches on to words and I’m (or my writing is) gone. Instrumental is good, sometimes film scores. And I have listened to Bach’s Goldberg Variations while writing some of my flash series grouped under the heading “Goldberg Variations”. That’s been quite interesting to do.

    As I said – a good list. Thanks for the guest post. Anything that helps writers write, is not a bad thing.

    Writing out in “the noisy confusion of life” – that I have done, and it’s been quite successful. The effort to focus helps.

  3. Profile photo of Estrella Azul

    Thank you again for the article, Alexis, it was fun to read it and to work with you!
    Here’s my two cents:

    Starting my morning right is a must every day, yummy breakfast and coffee or cappuccino if I have a headache. I also usually drink a lot of water, so no worries for dehydration during my writing sessions.

    Turning off time suckers is wonderful, I often do that and turn the WiFi off, then back on during breaks I take for check-ins; that’s when I update Twitter, FB, etc. if needed.

    Turning off spell-check is good too, I sometimes get distracted by the red underlining…

    I sometimes like to have some kind of instrumental music in the background (lyrics annoy me as they mix with my thoughts), but it depends on my mood. Usually I just like peace and quiet.

    Writing somewhere else, other than my home is also helpful for me. Unfortunately the public libraries are not open on Saturdays, which is my best full day for writing. There aren’t (almost any) many coffee shops or other non-smoking places here in my city where I could take my laptop to and write.
    So I do sometimes go for walks during summer when it’s warm outside and find a nice and quiet enough place to sit down and jot in my notebook, the old-fashioned way, with a pen.
    Also, I find that I can write with less distractions when I’m at the Chef’s – there isn’t much I have to help out with there, so that means less distractions.

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