If you’re like most writers, you probably struggle to keep your focus and concentration while writing sometimes. I know I do. Despite having an outside writing space where I can lock myself away, I still have family around me (including a rather energetic and at times loud three year old) so distractions in the form of noise can sometimes be an issue.
There are also times when, despite the quiet, that I find it hard to get my mind to focus or keep away distracting thoughts that prevent me getting into a flow state while I’m writing.
To combat all these focus killers, I have a found a pretty good hack in the form of a pair of headphones and some white noise. I know many writers listen to music as a way of helping their concentration, but I find music (especially the metal music I listen to) to be a little too distracting for writing. Half the time I find myself focusing on the vocals of the music or some killer riff more than on what I’m writing.
So a good alternative to music is white noise. Not static, more soundscape. The track I always listen to (and the one I’ve found helps me the most) is an eight hour recording of falling rain. The noise is monotonous enough not to distract by having constant changes, and is soothing enough to almost lull me by itself into a state of relaxed concentration.
It gives my mind something else to focus on, allowing me to get on with the job of writing. It also creates a nice atmosphere that draws me in consciously and lets my subconscious get on with the writing.
Here’s the YouTube video I always listen to. I just ripped the soundtrack into an MP3 file so I can listen when I want.
[youtube id=”9E3zNHd936c” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
Of course there are many other similar kinds of videos and audio files out there. You will see them all listed on YouTube. Just go through them until you find one you like and then try it out while you’re writing (just steer clear of anything too engaging or raucous). Also, maybe not too loud or you’ll just be defeating the purpose. Loud enough to block distractions, low enough so you can focus properly.
I should also add here that I only use headphones while writing, not while editing. Editing requires your full conscious concentration. Having headphones on would only detract from that. It’s different when you’re writing as you want that dreamy flow state to help you create. Not so with editing.
Try out the headphones hack. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.