How to beat distraction, the new writer’s block

Writer’s block used to mean sitting at your desk, staring into the empty void that was your screen and hoping for inspiration, writes Rob Ashton.

Ah, those were the days. Now it’s not emptiness but a world crammed with tempting morsels that’s the problem. Gone is the blank screen. In its place is an infinite variety of distractions, each way more enticing than not just writing but even thinking about writing.

Half the problem is the very place where you write your documents – your computer. Because that’s where most of the distractions are. Even the best ideas stand helpless against an onslaught of instant messages, notifications, Google searches and browser tabs (each of which can easily lead you to the other, forming a complex loop that quickly fills your head with a kind of digital fug).

I never thought I’d feel nostalgic for plain vanilla writer’s block. But in the era before the web got its spindly filaments into every part of our lives, at least you could identify and isolate the problem. Maybe it was fear of failure. Perhaps a lack of ideas. These days, concentrating for more than a few minutes is a challenge in itself. Trying to join two ideas together takes near super-human focus.

Fortunately, I think I may have discovered the solution. And focus is at its core.

It’s an online course called Focused Every Day, from the author David Levin. (You can try a free version of the programme here.)

I’ve actually tried this course and it worked for me. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the most effective programmes I’ve followed in a long, long time. (To put the recommendation in context, this is the first time in our 15-year history that we’ve endorsed a course from someone else.)

It’s improved my own focus many-fold, with the result not only that ideas have begun to flow again but that I’ve been able to capture and act on them. It’s made distraction much, much easier to control and dramatically improved my own business-writing output.

So, why does it work?

I think it’s because Levin has taken some very simple yet powerful concepts and made them incredibly easy to apply. It’s a deceptively straightforward course.
This and the author’s gentle, engaging delivery are its great strengths. It’s such a refreshing change from, say, books that require you to memorise intricate concepts or change your entire approach to everyday life.

I strongly urge you to give it a go. Sign up for the free training videos here.

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