Distractions are a common thing in any workplace scenario. But for writers things can get extra distracting, even for the most focused individual. My personal favorite distraction is my cat Doodlebug, an attention-starved cat that feels the world revolves around her. Considering the wife and I dedicated an entire room in the sunroom for her toys and litterbox, it becomes easy to see why a single feline would feel so royally obligated. For writers without pets the biggest distraction of all is amusing; silence. Nothing bothers a focused writer more than white noise, and the few that can operate under such conditions are considered to be of an alien master race. There are many other distractions that plague writers from moving forward with their current projects, so how do you avoid these same pitfalls?
Distract whatever is distracting you- As a cat owner the one thing I keep a lot of is catnip, whether it is the roll-on deodorant kind or the herbal variety that comes in a small plastic bag. The latter probably shouldn’t be carried out in public, as it may get you falsely arrested, but I digress. Spreading this around in key areas in the house is like sending your cat on a treasure hunt, and will give you many hours of peace while writing depending on how well you spread it out. If no catnip is in hand, take a look in your spice cabinet and grab something with a strong scent. Rub it on some minor things in the house and it will have the same effect as catnip.
For dog owners buy a dog bed and put it where you work, with a variety of bones for your dog to chew on. Your best friend will sit there in their bed chewing on multiple bones and not paying you any mind, even though they’re right by you. As a bonus, the sound of a dog gnawing on a snack bone for a couple of hours has a certain calming effect while writing. Make sure to get them the good kind that takes a while to go through, or else within an hour you’ll be looking into the eyes of a disappointed dog!
Avoid overly loud or overly quiet places- The coffee shop can be a great place to write on a normal day when things are too noisy at home, that is unless you happen to be in the same coffee shop as a desperate guy trying to get the number of the cute barista. What turns out as a simple misadventure turns into a couple of hours of some of the worst pickup lines you have ever heard followed by some of the most annoyingly fake laughter this side of the universe. Next thing you know, the intelligent political thriller you were writing suddenly stalls in dialog as you hear the Fran Drescher-like laughter from the barista for the 5th time in under 2 minutes.
Some may choose to retreat to a place like the library, or even to a room in their house with nothing but the sound of the air conditioner blowing. Oh, the peace and tranquility and absolute lack of interaction of any kind will soon has you realizing that the same word count on the screen has been staring back at you for the past half hour while you daydreamed. This daze is common with environments that are too quiet, and it isn’t unheard of to even develop procrastination traits if you surround yourself with white noise for too long. Find a balance between the two and you’ll be in bliss as a writer.
There is no perfect environment that works for all writers, but you should know personally what works in your favor to be creative. Having this information at hand will let you know whether the current situation that you write in is optimal in a long-term project.