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This... "tutorial" for lack of a better term has been on my mind a lot recently and I've been meaning to sit down and write it. Well, I finally did and you can read it here under the cut below. If you found it useful, please let me know and if you have any other tips or tricks to add to the topic, feel free to leave a comment! :D Be sure to read the comments, too, for more tips and tricks!

The following are some tips and tricks I've developed and (finally) learned to help me stay focused on RPing and writing. I don't expect them to work or be useful for everyone, but hopefully someone, somewhere will find one or all beneficial.

Build a Foundation

Before you settle down to write, make sure you've checked all your email and any other messages that will require your attention. Complete that task first so those things will not be on your mind while writing.

Next, turn off all notifications, pop-up messages, or whatever else that might distract you like IM/text services. Put up away/busy statuses. If you can, turn off the sounds of these services so that you're lessening your temptation to check for new messages and if you use a mobile device to get your mail, messages, etc., turn off your notifications and the sounds. This is possible, trust me. If it's still a temptation, leave it in another room you're not using to write or turn it off.

Not Too Loud, Not Too Soft

As surprising as it is to hear, use music to your advantage or, in one suggestion I have, ambient noise. According to Coffitivity, there is research that shows that a balance of quiet and ambient noise helps one be productive and/or creative! Test it here at Coffitivity to try it out yourself. If that's not to your liking (I did have a friend say that it reminded her way too much of work since she actually works at a coffeeshop, lol) then I recommend looking into ambient music. SomaFM has a really great selection of music and, if you use Trillian's Trilly Tunes plug-in, you can add the streams and listen to them anytime you like!
If you simply must use your own music, try to use selections from your list that is appropriate to the scene you're writing (to help with mood) or use any and all instrumentals you've got in your music library. In my experience, trying to listen to lyrics while writing doesn't work in my favor and I end up getting distracted thanks to my ADD, lol. Remember, we're trying to be distraction free here, not going off on a music tangent when we're supposed to be writing!
I'd recommend the usual places to stream music such as Pandora, Last.fm, or Spotify, but unless you're paying for those services, you'll get their "in-app" advertisements and those may or may not throw you off your game. If you're going to go to the internet music streaming route, I suggest Grooveshark. You can sign up for it if you want, but you can totally listen to the radio, genres, or make your own playlist without having to and enjoy the service ad free (at least for the streaming aspect).

Getting in the Mood & Writing

Ok, so you've taken care of any potential distractions like notifications and messages and you've got some music or ambient noise to help fuel your creativity. But, you suddenly find yourself stuck or you're having trouble getting started on that thread you need to tag! OH NO, THE HORROR OF IT ALL~~~! Relax, it's okay, just take a breath. If you need a little jumpstart, try writing a little unrelated drabble or writing prompt. There is a great 300 word drabble/writing prompt table right here. If 300 is a little daunting or overwhelming, you can find other tables there, too, and pick one to suit your needs. If that doesn't float your boat, there are great resources on Tumblr in the #writing prompt tag (although be careful that you don't get distracted scrolling through!), and if you're familiar with Reddit, they've got an interesting writing prompt section. [info]memecakes, while meme's, can be adapted into prompts, too!

You're not stuck (or you weren't at all) and you're writing (hooray!), but you find yourself getting distracted. Well, this could be things on your mind or other ideas, which isn't a bad thing, but they detract from your writing. If your mind is on another idea or project, concentrate on that and then go back to you writing. I've learned from personal experience that if my mind is on something else, my current project (and the motivation for that project) will not get completed or worked on to my satisfaction. Like emails and messages, it's best to get that other project on your mind out of the way and come back to your writing and be able to focus on that versus having the other thing distracting you.

What if it's not another project distracting you, but your fellow RP/writers? Then Full Screen is your best friend. If you're using a program on your computer, I'm not sure that will help you but if it does have a Full Screen option, enable it. If it doesn't, don't be afraid to be assertive and say, "Hey, I really need to concentrate on this tag, you're distracting me." However, if you're using an online app, program, or other writing feature then hit that F11 key like it's going out of style and you should be home free to continue!

And... there you have it, folks! All the tips and tricks I've learned and thought of that have helped me stay focused and distraction free. Of course, there are and will be days where no amount of preparation will keep the distractions at bay and that's okay! Don't let those days discourage you. Sometimes, it's best to walk away and come back at another time. :)


A huge thank you to [info]redmenace for these great resources that she mentioned in the old post.


Apr. 29th, 2014 03:46 am (UTC)
Good tips! If ambient noise works for people, Youtube is another great resource for audio that's hours long, so you don't have to waste time setting up playlists and sourcing multiple songs. Search strings like 'ambient music' or 'ambient sound' will pull up lots of useful hits.

I've also found it helpful to set a timer (the Pomodoro Technique, or similar), so the psychological effect is "okay, I only have to focus on writing for x minutes, then I can reward myself with a break/do something else for a bit." I also like to do any research before or after, depending on how solidly I know what I'm writing--that way, I don't pause in mid-sentence to look something up, and decide to check Tumblr since I'm already on a different tab and all... and there goes another fifteen minutes ;) For example, if I'm writing a character who talks fashion but I can't figure out what will evoke the image I'm looking for, I'll just write in everything else, bracket what I need to look up, and Google once I'm done with the rest of the tag. (So the unedited tag looks something like "I love your shoes," she said. "Are those [[BRAND]]?" Or whatever.) This doesn't always work if it's a major thing that affects the rest of what I'm writing, but it's good for the little details.
Apr. 29th, 2014 04:08 am (UTC)
Those are great ideas! :D Do you mind if I add them to the post?
Apr. 29th, 2014 04:13 am (UTC)
Sure! Feel free to reword it so it makes sense, I was just writing an off-the-cuff comment :D

(And I'm glad I'm not the only one who has a hard time concentrating on RP. I want to do it! I'm so ready to write!!! I say, and then promptly refresh social media sites for an hour.)
Apr. 29th, 2014 04:21 am (UTC)
Oh, I think it makes plenty of sense as is! :D

(Yep, I say something similar but my distractions are usually Tumblr and IMs, lol. It took me a while to finally tell people to (politely) stfu, XD.)
Apr. 29th, 2014 04:26 am (UTC)
Tumblr is like a gaping, black maw for productivity, lol. I use it for fandom purposes, and I write a bunch of fandom stuff, so I constantly fool myself into thinking YES THOSE TWO THINGS ARE SO RELATED I'M TOTALLY JUSTIFIED IN STARING AT PHOTOSETS OF MY PBS. No, self. No. You are telling yourself liiiiies.
Apr. 29th, 2014 04:41 am (UTC)
May. 1st, 2014 02:41 am (UTC)
Love the tips! To add to your resources, 'cause I didn't see it there (maybe I missed it!) -- I personally can't stand to have music on when I write because the changes in the music distract me, but I use the Rain generator from MyNoise.net in order to block out OTHER noise that might be going on around me. The site has a LOT of different noise generators for ambient sound, from general white noise to nature sounds all the way to the sound of a creepy deserted town (if that's your thing). They're also super-customizable, so every generator has different effects on different frequencies (it's so rad). I definitely recommend checking it out if sound generators help you with focus.
May. 1st, 2014 04:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Someone did comment on the entry and mentioned MyNoise.net, but did not go into as much detail as you did so I'll add that info. to the post. :)