How to Write More, Even if You're Distracted
It's been said that a good writer should be able to create quality material despite the distractions which may be present. For those of us who ride crowded trains filled with cell phone chatter and the occasional loud drunken rant, this can be a challenge. The bored conductor announces the next stop through crackling speakers before continuing, "ladies and gentlemen, the police may conduct a random search of bags at anytime, if you see something, say something". Supposedly there is a quiet car at the end of the train, but I've yet to find it.
Despite the humorous oddities of commuting, I've settled into a productive groove that's resulted in more content for this blog, and other written projects. Usually these are about how to take better photos, but today, it's about my second favorite method of expression, writing.
The iPad started as the writing tool I wanted to love, but just couldn't seem to connect with. I was too often sidetracked and would give up and play Bejeweled. That all changed when I added the bluetooth keyboard by Zagg. This little device has made typing fast and fun. Instead of hunting and pecking with one finger, I now have a fully functioning keyboard. There are even shortcut keys for getting to the home screen, volume, and copy and paste. All iPads should ship with something like this.
Get this App
After trying several writing apps, I finally found the perfect solution with "Awesome Note". You can create custom folders and arrange different notebooks, journals, and lists. The entire layout is well designed with many options and several types of paper, including my favorite, parchment. Little details like this make a blank page less daunting. The work can be emailed or sync'd with Evernote for convenient backup.
Sometimes it helps to "free write" which is an exercise best done with pen and paper. You set a timer for a predetermined amount of time, like 5 minutes, and just write without making corrections or worrying about style. It's all about letting the ideas and concepts flow from the brain to the paper. Once the time is up, you can transfer and craft it more carefully.
When I really need to tune out the world and focus on my inner dialogue, I ditch the earbuds and plug in these over-the-ear headphones. The sound is terrific with nice base levels and a great deal of clarity. While song selection is a matter of personal taste, I find bands with a less structured ambient vibe to be effective writing music. One such example is the album "Talkie Walkie" by Air. It fades into the background and sometimes forms a typing rhythm along with the steel wheels methodically chugging along the wooden tracks.
Pinterest board on writing well
Every artist needs to refill their well of inspiration occasionally. I like to hear what the great writers who have gone before have to say on the process. Advice like this from Henry Miller "Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards." have helped me regain focus when struggling for discipline. To access their wisdom more readily, I created a Pinterest board "On Writing Well". Feel free to access it should you need a push in the right direction.
A blogger asked author Seth Godin, "Do you get writer's block?"
He responded with a question. Do you get talker's block?
He went on to detail how he writes the way he talks and he doesn't get talker's block, so he most certainly doesn't get writer's block.
Writing every day
If I were to wait for the perfect mood and atmosphere, I would rarely type a word. There is always something in the way, or a distraction to deal with. Yet, I've made a commitment to write every day. The only way to chop procrastination down to size is to take action. Make today the first day of a new chapter, and start writing.