Is Technology a Writing Distraction?

If it’s not the kids fighting over a toy, the dog scratching at the door to come in, or the TV playing too loud in the next room, for some people, the biggest distraction is technology. We must be disciplined enough to put away ALL gadgets when we write.

As I searched for a topic for today’s post, the notifications on my cell phone went off several times to let me know I had a text and several social media messages. My laptop dinged when new email came in. All those distractions happened in the span of a few minutes (or was it seconds?) while I surfed the web. I didn’t think of it as a big deal, but right now, it has me thinking.

Where’s your cell phone while you work on your stories? Next to the keyboard? The volume’s off so it’s not going to interrupt you, right? Wrong! You see the notification telling you something of great importance. Is it so important you can’t check it later?

Here are FIVE major distractions that, in my opinion, we need to turn off when working on a novel, whether writing, revising, editing, proofreading, etc.

  1. Email program. The reason I don’t want it on is simply because of the noise it makes when messages come in. Even if the volume’s off (call it automatic or impulsive), I toggle between windows, ‘just to check,’ I might say. Am I going to read the message and feel the need to reply immediately? Probably.
  2. Social Media. Regardless which ones you use, they do affect our work in more ways than one. You check one message, and as you reply quickly, another one comes through in. You have to answer… Oh and don’t forget those pop-up ads, which I find totally obnoxious.
  3. Cell phone. To me personally, that’s one of the worst. I actually turn the volume as well as the vibe off, and place the phone upside down so I won’t be distracted by the flashing notifications. Other times, I set it on my charging dock which is on the cabinet behind me. No distractions.
  4. Home phone. While many people got rid of their landline when they acquired a cell phone, I kept mine (not sure why, all I get are telemarketers/scams!). To avoid distractions when I work, especially with all the scams out there, it’s easier for me to turn the phone off.
  5. Music/TV. While many CAN work with music, or the TV in the background, I need total silence. I find it much easier to work in the stillness of the room. I turned a spare room into an office. The sign on the door says Employees Only (I couldn’t find Do Not Enter). My family knows when the door’s shut, it means keep out. (I understand not everyone has the luxury of having a spare room). 

employees only

I’m sure there are tons of other things that interfere with your writing. What are some of them? How do you keep distractions at bay while working on your stories?

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