4 Hacks to Help Writers Deal with Distractions

Contributed by Kristen Hogrefe

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” I’ll never forget this advice from my former English professor. Her words applied so well both to life and writing projects—then and now.

After all, life is full of distractions. As I type, my kitten is batting my feet and demanding to be fed. This interruption leads me to life hack #1 for dealing with distractions.

Pluck the Low-Hanging Fruit.

Have you heard the low-hanging-fruit metaphor before? Some distractions are unavoidable. The trash needs to go out. The kitten needs to be fed. If you have a family, your must-do list is even longer than mine.

There are just some tasks we can’t avoid in a day. Many are great things that we love doing, and others are chores we must do with love.

Complete those tasks before sitting down to write. They are the “low-hanging fruit” you can check off your list, and unless you do, they will nag your brain and zap your creativity.

Put Time Limits on Social Media

Social media can be a black hole. One moment, we sign in to Facebook, and half an hour later, we haven’t even posted what we planned to say.

As writers, most of us can’t avoid social media. It’s how we connect with our friends, readers, and colleagues. However, if we try to write with our inbox open, we’re going to get nowhere. (If your phone pings every time you receive emails or messages, you’ll need to hide it, too.)

Here’s some rule-of-thumb advice:

  • Only log on to social media if you have a plan. Be prepared to post, give yourself a time limit to browse others’ posts, and then get off.
  • Don’t let social media control you. If you’re writing and remember something you need to do online, write it on a notepad or sticky note and get back to it later.

Practice Saying No

I once worked for a business where the motto was, “Yes, we can!” While that’s a great slogan for customer service, it’s a death wish if you want to be serious about your writing.

Saying no is hard for some of us, because we don’t like to disappoint people. However, we’ll do ourselves and others a disservice if we don’t learn to pick and choose our commitments.

Before saying yes to one more thing, ask yourself:

  • Does this choice line up with my goals?
  • Is this task the best use of my time?
  • Am I the right person for this commitment, or is someone else?

Believe it or not, saying no can be liberating and allows us to say yes to more meaningful commitments.

Put Your Hand to the Plow, and Don’t Look Back

Luke 9:57-62 recounts three people who talk about following Jesus. One makes an excuse about something he needs to do first, and Jesus warns the other two about checking their priorities.

Jesus tells the last one, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 ESV).

Although this account primarily speaks to our need to follow the Lord, regardless of the cost, I think it also holds an application for how we steward the gifts and responsibilities God gives us.

If God has called us to write—and I believe He has—then every time we let distractions steal our focus, we’re “looking back.”

You’ve made the commitment to write. I have, too. When you have to decide how best to use your time, remember: the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.


Author Kristen Hogrefe

Kristen Hogrefe is an author of young adult fiction novels. She teaches language arts for Alpha Omega Academy and serves as a mentor for Word Weavers International. A lifelong Florida resident, she craves sunshine, preferably paired with coffee and a good book.

Her new release, The Revisionary (Write Integrity Press), is the first book in her YA dystopian trilogy The Rogues. It’s a dystopia of a different kind—one where characters look backward to find wisdom to move forward.

Look her up at www.KristenHogrefe.com where she challenges young adults and the young at heart to think truthfully and live daringly.

Twitter: @kjhogrefe
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristenhogrefe.author/ 
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kristen-Hogrefe/

The Revisionary

The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe

A Revisionary rewrites the rules. A Rogue breaks them. Which one is she?

Nineteen-year-old Portia Abernathy accepts her Revisionary draft to the Crystal Globe with one goal: earn a Dome seat so she can amend the satellite rules and rescue her brother. Her plan derails when Head Gage Eliab brands her as a suspect in a campus Rogue attack, and in her quest to clear her name, she questions if the vigilante Brotherhood responsible might not be the real villain.

Her shifting loyalties pit her against Luther Danforth, her Court Citizen ally who believes in reform, not revolution. Joining the Brotherhood makes a future with him impossible—and Portia must decide if it’s better to rewrite the rules or to break them.

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