Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Top Four Time-Wasters for Writers

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?

4) Over-Brainstorming

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.

3) Noise

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. :)


Nathan R. Petrie said...

Yeah...internet is my "I need a break" go to lol. Even though the break ends up killing time :P Like right now, I should be writing. But I'm on your blog :-)

Star-Dreamer said...

I usually can't write with music in the background, but I've had to learn to live with it as my sister refuses to turn off her radio and plays a country station 24/7. So now I put my earphones on and turn on some more soothing melodies... I find I can write pretty well if the music is intrumental but not too complicated. Even if there are a few words in the song, if the words are soft enough and if I already know them, I can usually turn them out. If the song is more complicated though, or the song requires really "listening" to the words, I'll never get any writing done because I'm too busy trying to figure out the story within the song. It can be rather annoying.

Eldra said...

Actually, the Internet is the most distracting thing in life. Period.

Seriously, I totally agree numbers 1, 2 and 4. I'm struggling with over-brainstorming right now, plus I constantly go back and edit what I've already written. As the computer that I write on doesn't have Internet, I don't really have to worry about that one as much. As for music, I almost always listen to my iPod while I write and I'll listen to just about anything that comes up, from movie soundtracks like LOTR and Star Wars to Skillet to Demon Hunter, which is really the only band that I find even slightly distracting.

Oh, Star-Dreamer, I feel for you. I can't stand country music.

Galadriel said...

I was wondering when the Internet would show up

Beorn said...

Internet is a huge distraction for me in life, I'm not going to deny it.

As for listening to music, movie soundtracks are the way to go (ones with no lyrics). This way you can pick a song that best fits your scene and you'll get into the mood of it. This is actually suggested in many How-To writing books.

Eldra said...

Beorn - I often listen to songs that fit the scene that I'm writing. Some of the combinations are highly unusual, but they seem to work.

Jake said...

@Star-Dreamer; Country music? Ouch. Regular music that I like is bad enough. :D

@Beorn; Yep, I DO like to listen to music when it fits with the scene. Like at 12 in the morning, when I'm trying to write a sunshiny scene while furtively glancing around to see if someone is sneaking up on me. :)