Surround Yourself with Good Distractions

Thinking that you "need a quiet place to write" in order to get in the zone is bullshit. You don't need peace and quiet to write. You don't need a comfortable setting or the same chair every time or to write at the same time every day. Sure, you don't want to be distracted every five minutes but in general, distractions aren't always bad. As long as they're the right ones. What you really want to do when trying to find a good place to write is look for a place with the right kind of distractions.

The reality is that stories are about people. They are never simply about what happened to someone either. Instead, they're about how they reacted to life. Along the same vein, stories are never about what someone did, they're about why they did it. So, as a writer, you're mind is constantly looking for examples of stories. Trying to find little clues that reveal those sought after why's behind peoples actions. This adds to our understanding of how life affects people internally and helps us write.


You want to cultivate an environment that helps you find these little clues. This will help you capture bits and pieces of ideas around you and trap them behind the lines of a page. In other words, if someone who may be good fuel for your writing interrupts you, even if it's just you eavesdropping on them, then that is a good distraction.

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Working in coffee shops is popular for a reason. There are plenty of people coming in and out of view and there are little snippets of strangers stories everywhere. A writer may overhear a conversation that Sparks something in their work. Or see someone who helps them fill out the image of a character in their head. It can be helpful to imagine all the little attributes of those people. This can fill in some blanks here and there and help get the pencil moving.


Other books that you've read can be a source of good distractions. You may be a person of whom simply seeing a book you've read may help stir up some ideas. In that case, writing in a quiet library could suit you well.

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The take away from all this is this: In order to find your ideal writing environment, you shouldn't be thinking, "I need a nice quiet place to write". Screw that. Think, "What kinds of stories do I like?" And surround yourself with those.

If you like hearing about dating and the partying lifestyle then go downtown at night near some busy clubs and write there. If you like stories about people connecting with nature, then go write in nature or near where people are hiking. If you like stories about family dynamics then maybe your kitchen at home is just the spot.

Me personally, I like hearing about the small details in peoples daily life’s and how similar we all are even between different cultures. So, when I am traveling the pages seem to fly by faster than when I am in my own city. This is simply because I see more people and hear more stories than I'm interested in when I travel. So really my environment is anywhere but home. Often times I plan on writing for the whole day then I'll get into a conversation with a local. When the conversation is over, I can't stop writing and write way more than I would have without talking to them.

In short, try and figure out what kinds of stories you pay attention to. Figure out where they happen. Then go there and embrace the good distractions!

Now get writing

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