Answer by Kevin Kieninger:
I read an interview with Johnathan Franzen before his last book, Freedom, came out.
He has a cabin up north with a room with one laptop on a desk, and a chair in the corner. No internet, no distractions.
Extreme, perhaps, but I think there’s some lessons there. If you have the luxury of a laptop, disconnect it from the internet. I use an iMac, and I’ve found it helpful to put my word processor (Pages) on fullscreen, so all you see is what you’re typing.
Other practical things:
- turn off your cell phone, or put it in another room
- turn off email notifications, or just about anything else that can pop up on your computer (if you disconnect from the internet, this probably fixes itself)
- shut the door to whatever room you’re in
- I’ve found that eliminating clutter from your desk or workspace has its benefits as well. The fewer books, notes, etc you have in front of you, the less likely you will be distracted
- do allow yourself some breaks. It’s noble to try and crank out 4 hours of continuous writing, but sometimes it just doesn’t work that way. If you’re tired after a long writing session, chances are if you push forward, you’ll just push out less than your best work
I think the biggest part of eliminating distractions is putting forth the conscious effort. It all comes down to the individual. I, for one, like music while I’m writing. Other’s may find it to be distracting.