What are the four most time-wasting things for writers, things that make distract them from the writing they're doing, and how do you stay away from them?
Believe it or not, brainstorming a little too much can be a bad thing. Sitting and staring at the computer screen/paper, thinking about what you're going to write stops being helpful after about a minute. Once you have the general idea of what you're going to write, then write it. Otherwise you might end of 'brainstorming' the entire time and never get a word down. Taking a long time to brainstorm is best done when you aren't able to write. During a long car voyage or if you can't get to sleep are two examples that I use constantly.
Noise distracts you, big time. Music is one classic example. While for many people, music helps them focus, most of the time I find that when a good song that I like comes on the radio, I think, "Oh, look, my favorite song is on," and so get distracted from my writing. However, there are select times and tunes where music is useful. Like when I was writing at 12:00 in the morning and was being creeped out by my own writing and the silence. :)
Talking and movies in the background is terrible as well. I don't know how many times I hear my name spoken, and leave to computer to find out who's talking about me. Movies are the same. Terribly distracting. I have found myself, while trying to write, ending up watching the movie just because it's a movie.
2) Self Criticism While Writing
Now we've come to one that almost tops the first time-waster; self criticism while writing. You're your most critical critic, but doing that while still writing isn't good. I touched on this several times before, and every word I said is echoed here again; it's a lot harder to finish a novel while you're constantly editing than to finish a novel and then edit.
By doing this, you'll lose time (and possibly waste some).
1) The Internet
I bet you saw this one coming. The internet is seriously the most distracting thing for writing ever invented. You get on the computer to write, and you instantly have a choice; write, or get on the internet? It's honestly a hard question.
I am guilty of this. Very guilty. I had no idea there were so many things more appealing than writing. And the internet is a classic cause of false writer's block. I get on the computer to write and find I want to get on the internet. "Well," I say to myself, "It must be writer's block." Writer's block is real, but oftentimes the cause is just that you would rather be doing something else; like the internet.
So the bottom line; Stay away from the internet, get away from the noise, and just write. :)