Are you distracted or just busy?

This is going to be a fairly short post because today I’m a little distracted. There are a million things that I need to get done, but I put together a quick 5 minute list on how to stay focused on writing when you’re feeling as distracted as I am:

  1. Turn off your WiFi while you write. You can do all your “research” later. Or, even better, print out the pages you need before you start writing. Make all your research come from offline (like, physical books! you like those!)
  2. Find something to hold you accountable. If you don’t have an agent or a writing group to whom you turn in pages regularly, go to MeetUp.com and find one. Or take a writing workshop. Whatever it is, the point is that most people need a deadline of sorts in order to be most productive.
  3. Ask yourself: are you distracted or just busy?  I’ve never been the kind of person who writes every single day or sticks to an inflexible schedule because sometimes I just don’t want to write. Sometimes I want to go out and send that belated birthday gift I was supposed to mail two months ago. Sometimes distractions from writing aren’t distractions at all. They’re just things you’d be happier doing. Do the things you need to do.

When writing feels like the kind of thing you just need to check off your list, maybe you should take a break from writing. There are so many different ways we punish ourselves (can’t eat that cookie! can’t sleep in! can’t stay out for too long!) and writing shouldn’t be another way to punish yourself–it’s where you should go to be fulfilled.

Maybe that’s naive, and I understand that if writing is your livelihood then I might be entirely wrong. But if you’re like me, a person who despises spending any moment of her day doing anything other than what she wants to be doing, then you shouldn’t feel too bad for getting distracted. You’ll get back to writing because there’s no way that you won’t. Because it’s what you want to do. So go do what you want.

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Stephanie Jimenez

Stephanie Jimenez is a former Fulbright recipient and Prep for Prep alumna. She is based in Queens, New York, and her work has appeared in The Guardian, O! the Oprah Magazine, Entropy, and more. Her debut novel, THEY COULD HAVE NAMED HER ANYTHING, will be published in the summer of 2019 (Little A). Follow her @estefsays.

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