18 June 2013

NYWM: Day 18



Has life gotten in the way of your writing challenge? Today we’re going to talk about blocking out distractions and giving your undivided attention to your goal.

Authors such as Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggars and Zadie Smith all bemoan the internet as their primary distraction. This advice from prolific writer Cory Doctorow is invaluable, and a list of ten ways to beat distractions can be found hereThis post on Lifehacker from one writer details how he modified his daily habits to work more efficiently and stop multitasking, while this post offers three quick tips to make you more focussed when writing a novel. Lastly, this blog post from popular writing site The Creative Penn is a good roundup of ways to increase productivity.

New evidence appears all the time reinforcing the fact that multitasking makes us less productive. It’s still hard to switch off distractions though. Are there tools to help? Yes. If you’re looking for something that assists in keeping track of what amount of time you are dedicating to certain tasks, use tracking software Project Timer (particularly useful for freelance writers). For Mac users, Self Control allows you to block all of the internet, or specific sites, for a self-determined block of time.

Have you tried working with the Pomodoro Technique? Coined in the 1980s, the technique boils down to setting a timer for 25 minute intervals and dedicating yourself to a single task for that time period. There are free online apps to assist you in keeping track of your time blocks digitally. This Time Out app is also useful if you want to ensure you don’t forget to take regular breaks during your work day (breaks have been proven to boost productivity and focus).

Opportunities and Events

Poets, the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize is now open. Now in its 18th year, entries to the prize close on July 31. See the Island website for entry forms and details.

Fiction writers and poets who live, work or study in Boroondara can enter the region’s literary awards, open until August 30. See the website for further information.

Are you in Tasmania? The Hobart heat for the Australian Poetry Slam has been announced. If you want to compete contact Cameron at tpf_inc (at) yahoo (dot) com (dot) au. If you want to attend the event on July 19 check out the Facebook event page.

Submissions to INK magazine close on July 12. If you’re a teenager, they’re looking for your contribution on the theme of ‘vision’. Head on over to their website for details.

Here’s a quote from Jonathan Franzen on his issues with distractions

The more you pursue distractions, the less effective any particular distraction is, and so I’d had to up various dosages, until, before I knew it, I was checking my e-mail every ten minutes, and my plugs of tobacco were getting ever larger, and my two drinks a night had worsened to four, and I’d achieved such deep mastery of computer solitaire that my goal was no longer to win a game but to win two or more games in a row–a kind of meta-solitaire whose fascination consisted not in playing the cards but in surfing the streaks of wins and losses – Jonathan Franzen

In today’s poll share your greatest writing distraction…

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