How to Stay Focused on Writing in an Attention Economy

by Sylvia Nica, jaBlog! Blogger


We live in what has been called an “attention economy.” In today’s world, there are more distractions than ever. TV, the easy access of the internet, and social media are all constantly pulling at our attention. With all these distractions around, how do you stay focused while writing?

Turn off the WiFi

The first thing you can do to avoid distractions is turn off the Internet connection. This one is tough. However, because most of today’s distractions are from the Internet, turning off the WiFi will help you to stay focused when writing. Even better, it automatically eliminates attention grabbers such as social media and online streaming services.

If it’s not possible to turn off the WiFi, make sure the only desktop windows you have open on your screen are for strictly writing work, and that all other tabs are closed.

Hide Your Phone

I have to admit, my phone is my biggest distraction. To combat the temptation of constantly checking it, I have my brother hide it until I’ve finished my writing. Because the phone is not nearby, I can’t use it as an excuse to take a break, and I don’t get sidetracked while checking notifications, either.

If you’re like me and your phone is a big distraction, have somebody hide it until you’ve finished your block of writing. Or, if you’d rather know where it is, put it somewhere that will take a lot of effort to reach, such as on top of a cabinet or locked in a drawer. This will discourage you to go looking for it. As a result, you stay focused. Once you’ve finished writing, you can retrieve it.

Time Yourself

If you write for five hours straight, it’s going to be difficult to stay focused. However, using a timer can help you block out your time in efficient chunks. By dedicating a specific amount of time to focused writing in your schedule each day, you can help your writing consistency improve and keep your attention fixed on writing.

Start out by writing for five minutes straight and then build it up to half-an-hour blocks. Put them at a time you know you won’t be nagged by responsibilities. Don’t allow yourself to do anything but write. At the end of each half-hour block, stand up, relax, and then go back to your writing. This gives your brain a break and leaves you fresh and focused for when you go back to work.

Tell Other People

The final tip to stay focused when writing is to tell other people. By telling other people about your goal to stay focused, you have a dedicated support group to help you get on track. That way, when you’re writing and happen to get distracted, you have someone to remind you to stay focused.

While letting someone nag you sounds counter intuitive, telling other people is the best way to stay dedicated and fulfill your goal of focused writing time. After a while, you may not even need your “focus group” anymore.

In Conclusion

Writing in an attention economy is tough. Today, there are more distractions than ever to pull you away from writing. However, by following these tips, you should find your writing time more productive and more fulfilling. Before long, you’ll be forgetting all about those other distractions!


Sylvia Nica

About Sylvia Nica

Sylvia is a writer looking to expand her craft in nonfiction articles and short stories, as well as fine-tune her novel writing. Having placed in several writing contests, including a regional gold key for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, she divides her time between fiction writing and blogging.

One comment on “How to Stay Focused on Writing in an Attention Economy

  1. All great tips. I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo right now, and these are all common tips that the professionals give. Very useful.

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