Read, Eat, Drink: Overcoming Distraction, Homemade Ravioli, and a Sage Cocktail


Last week I was thinking about the themes that ran through my list of the 9 Books That Will Make You a Better Writer, and I realized that one of the things that attracted me to those particular books was the way many of the authors dealt with the issue of writing and mental fortitude. The two are so intertwined and so crucial to success. As Betsey Lerner writes in The Forest for the Trees, “There is no stage of the writing process that doesn’t challenge every aspect of a writer’s personality. How well writers deal with those challenges can be critical to their survival.”

As I wrote about here, procrastination is one of the biggest mental roadblocks that holds writers back from creating books and building audiences. It’s a lesson we have to learn again and again–how to step away from all the noise and create space for productivity. I love that Leo Babuata of Zen Habits is so honest and helpful about this–he calls himself a distraction addict, and I think it’s safe to say that most of us are just as hooked on pop-up windows and scrolling news streams as he is. As he writes:

Distractions, of course, are often about the fear of missing out. We can’t possibly take part in every cool thing that everyone else is doing, but we also don’t want to miss out on any of it. So we look online for what’s going on, what other people are doing and saying, what’s hot. None of that actually matters. What matters is being content, doing things that make people’s lives better, learning, being compassionate, helping. So let’s let go of what we’re missing out on, and focus on the difference we want to make in the world.

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How to Stop Procrastinating (& a Free Brené Brown Art Print!)

Brene Brown quote on writing

One of the toughest things for writers (and really anyone working on anything) is learning how to outsmart procrastination. Our minds are so resistant to being used, and they’re just as wily at coming up with ways to distract us. A quick look at Twitter? Well, sure! Just a peek at Facebook to make sure I didn’t miss out on something super important? Definitely necessary. Another break to search blogs for inspiration? Why not?

We all know the end result of this: we put off the project, and the longer we put it off, the harder and more intimidating it seems. Whether we’re writing a blog post, a book chapter, or a business plan,  it will probably require using more than 5% of our brain. But social media and other passive activities requires so much less energy from our brains–biologically, we’re hardwired to prefer these “easy” activities, like watching TV, because they use less of our energy than “difficult” activities, like writing and brainstorming.

But isn’t there a secret way to trick our brains into preferring these difficult activities?

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