Is there anything better than being a freelance content writer? You get the opportunity to express your thoughts, ideas, and opinions on a variety of topics, all while enjoying the flexibility to work remotely and carve out your own hours. It’s a rewarding career path with plenty of growth potential and exciting opportunities. But if there’s one thing that will prevent you from being successful, it’s distractions.
Identifying Your Biggest Distractions
Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. And while no two people are afflicted by the same set of distractions, we’re all facing similar disruptions. Common issues include:
- Being distracted by children, spouses, or roommates who are present in the home when you’re trying to work.
- Having technology – such as social media, email, and SMS – disrupt your workflow.
- Finding it hard to focus in a public work setting when the people around you are engaged in other activities.
- Using the internet to research a topic and getting distracted by clickbait, social media, or favorite websites.
- Working from home and getting sidetracked by household chores and responsibilities – like laundry, mowing the lawn, or cooking dinner.
If some of these issues resonate with you, you aren’t alone. Distractions are a huge deal for content writers and a failure to account for them can lead to significant negative consequences.
6 Tips for Fighting Through Distractions
It’s not that the world’s best content writers don’t face distractions. Rather, it’s that they discover powerful ways to silence them and avoid becoming snared. Here are some ways you can do the same:
1. Block Out Doubt and Comparisons
We’ll deal with all of the external disruptions momentarily, but let’s begin with the internal distractions that are holding you back – namely, doubt and comparisons.
Doubt looks different for every writer, but we all experience it. For example, if you’re a female content writer, it’s easy to become frustrated by the fact that your work is often undervalued.
Even in an industry where some of the most talented writers are female, women continue to be paid less for their copywriting. If you dwell on this too much, you’ll become so frustrated that you can’t actually write the content you need to produce in order to enjoy success.
Or perhaps you’re constantly comparing yourself to another content writer that you know. After a while, this way of thinking will invade your mind and actually lower the quality of your writing.
Self-doubt, comparisons, and career frustrations have to go out the window when you write. Learn to control your thoughts and hone in on the task at hand.
2. Stop Reading About Writing
It’s helpful for writers to spend time reading. Whether it’s a motivational blog post, a creative work by a respected author, or a technical resource on the intricacies of copywriting, there’s value to be extracted from reading. But if you’re reading about writing instead of actually writing, it can actually be a distraction. This is something content writer Andy Mort discovered firsthand a few years back.
“I was inspired, but remained completely passive and creatively paralyzed,” Mort recalls. “So I had to ration my consumption of these materials. I don’t look at my RSS feed, social networks, or email updates until I’ve written for at least an hour (usually two) each morning.”
Sometimes you have to force yourself to write. In doing so, you strengthen your writing muscles and make this a normal part of your daily routine.
3. Unplug For Chunks of Time
The nature of our work as content writers means we’re constantly connected to our computers. This makes us extra susceptible to digital distractions – including websites, social media, email, chat apps, and even games. Sometimes the best thing you can do is unplug for pre-defined blocks of time.
For example, try making every other hour of the day an unplugged hour. During these hours, you log out of all of your accounts, use a website blocker to prevent you from accessing distracting sites, turn off your phone, and silence all notifications. Then, under the shade of this isolation, you write. You’ll find that your output skyrockets and that you really don’t miss very much.
4. Write First Thing in the Morning
We won’t get into an argument about whether it’s better to be an early riser or night owl – there are plenty of talented writers among both groups – but there is something to be said for waking up early and writing first thing in the morning.
Early in the morning, there are no distractions. The rest of the world is sleeping and you don’t have to put out any fires, solve any problems, or attend anyone else’s needs. It’s just you and your keyboard.
5. Try the Pomodoro Method
“Many writing coaches recommend using a timer for your daily writing practice,” academic writing consultant Dr. Sally Jensen explains. “The Pomodoro Technique uses a kitchen timer set for 25 minutes and helps writers develop the discipline to concentrate on an activity, without interruption, until the timer rings.”
With the Pomodoro Method, you write for 25 minutes, take a three to five-minute break, and then write for another 25 minutes. You repeat this process until the task is complete. Feel free to adjust the method to fit your attention span. You may be able to last longer between breaks.
6. Handle Your To-Do List
Do you find yourself distracted by all of the other things going on in your life? Well, these other responsibilities and tasks won’t go away on their own. The best way to prevent life from getting in the way is to take time to handle your to-do list outside of work hours. By crossing tasks off your list, there’s less to distract you.
You have far more self-control, willpower, and focus than you realize. It’s time to stop focusing so heavily on the distractions in your life and to begin prioritizing writing. By implementing simple, yet tangible techniques like these, you can stop wasting time and begin making the most of every opportunity you have. Good luck!