Parnassus Books, an independent bookseller in Nashville, Tennessee, runs a prolific blog called Musing. They asked novelist and creative writing professor Jennifer Close to share her five best tips on how to reject distraction and focus on her writing. Among them, she cautions students that to write, they should avoid the internet to quiet their mind.
Stop looking at the internet!
My students at George Washington University are (obviously) younger than I am, which means they’re even more addicted to and dependent on technology. I get to sound really wise and old and righteous as I lecture them about not looking at their phones, and they get to teach me about Finstagram and other important developments on the interweb.
They try to assure me that they can still write while pecking away at their phones or taking a break to look at Instagram and I tell them over and over again that they can’t. (Don’t my writing classes sound fun so far?) I tell them that something happens when you quiet your mind and sit alone with your thoughts for a while, that there is a switch in your brain as you move into writing mode and really focus.
I don’t know the scientific term for this phenomenon but I think it’s something like stoplookingattheinternetandyourbrainwillwritebetter. And even though I tell my students this about 400 times a week and I know it to be true, my fingers still itch to check Twitter/Facebook and watch just ONE MORE cute dog video before I start writing.
It’s hard, but we can all resist! Put your phone on silent and maybe in another room. Disconnect your wifi. Do whatever you have to do. It gets uncomfortable. That’s the point. (Also, every so often my wifi just refuses to work, and instead of blaming Verizon I believe this to be the writing gods trying to help me out. They work in mysterious ways.)
Read the full post at musing.
What’s your best tip for achieving the focus needed to write?