5 Writing Distraction Busters by Susie Finkbeiner

on Feb 12, 2018 in Blog | 2 comments

Elizabeth Barrett Browning once said, “At painful times, when composition is impossible and reading is not enough, grammars and dictionaries are excellent distraction.”

Distracted by a dictionary? My, my. What would our Liz have done with the internet, a thousand cable channels, and all the sparkly things?

And, for that matter, how do we keep from being distracted by all the things? I don’t know about you, but Facebook emits a siren song every fifteen minutes for me to check this and that. I mean, what if that one friend from fourth grade posted another funny meme or what if my neighbor that I’ve never talked to in person liked the picture of my brand new hair cut? I NEED TO KNOW!

Right? No? Sigh.

So, how do I resist all the disturbances that come knocking on my door? Here are 5 distraction busters that I’ve found work for me. Maybe they’ll help you too.

  1. Schedule the writing time:  Treat writing with the same discipline as you would a typical job. Look at your weekly calendar and set your writing schedule. Maybe that’s 30 minutes a day. Perhaps it’s more. But whatever it is, stick to it. Say to yourself, “This is my writing time. I will focus on this work and only this work until my time is up.”
  2. Change locations: When I sit in a certain seat in my living room I find every kind of distraction in the world. On those occasions, I need to move to a different seat in the house. Perhaps that would help you too. Move away from the TV or the cupboard where you hide the chocolate. Sit in the most boring corner of your house, the one with no view. You’ll be amazed by how productive you can be!
  3. Find accountability: For many of us, we write alone. We need to find someone to check in with us. This needs to be someone who loves us enough to hold us to our goals and to spur us on to doing the work. I tend to avoid Facebook when I know that someone will be checking to see if I’ve been messing around, watching cat videos all day.
  4. Get a focus app: There are days when I have zero self-control. Even knowing that my accountability friend will be disappointed, I scroll through Twitter to see what the rage du jour is. That’s when I click on my app that blocks me from using any social media sites for as long as I choose. Seriously. It bans me from Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and any other sites I choose to block. With that distraction off my plate, I’m able to completely focus on my writing. (I use Focus 45)
  5. Remember your purpose: When you feel the temptation to let you mind wander, take a moment to breathe and remember why you’re working on this project. Think of who it will help, how it will bring glory to God. Remember your purpose. Then get to work.

I’d love to hear your ideas of how to bust distraction! Join the conversation in the comments below.

Susie Finkbeiner is the bestselling author of A Cup of DustA Trail of Crumbs, and A Song of Home. She serves on the Breathe Planning Committee.


  1. Susie~What a good reminder. I especially love this app that you suggested. Brilliant.
    Having habits helps me–rituals. For me, sitting in the same place at the same time (when possible!) helps. Letting myself have a break keeps me going too. Union break, I call them.

    Cynthia Beach

    February 12, 2018

  2. Remember who the work is for – which is huge, because I always forget. Thanks, Finkster!

    Cal Olson

    February 13, 2018

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