In an ideal world, authors would be able to concentrate in any situation, any place. But it’s not ideal, and there are situations that completely kill our concentration. But everyone is different. Everyone has a different tolerance for noise, cold, heat, light, and so on.
Having written through raising two children, I can consider a lot of annoying sounds white noise, but video games, especially those with loud background noises and my husband playing guitar seem to be the worst offenders for things I have a hard time blocking out. Thank goodness for earplugs.
Just about anything can break my concentration when writing. Noises like people talking in the hall, cars passing in the street, music… I wear headphones the whole time I write, but I don’t listen to anything, because even at low volumes I get distracted by it. I don’t need absolute silence, but I’m sure I couldn’t write at a coffee-shop, and I close all unrelated windows on my computer so that visual things can’t distract me either. Heck, I write with the lights off so it feels more like I’m in a cave.
By and large, the thing that breaks my concentration the worst is when people start talking to me. I can write (or do other work) through music, through background noise from a television show…hell, someone could be doing heavy construction right next door and it wouldn’t bother my concentration at all. But when someone (*cough*daughterandhusband*cough*) starts talking to me, my entire train of thought goes right out the window. They don’t mean to send my mind tumbling off into nothingness, of course, but it’s definitely the one thing that destroys my concentration the most often.
The only other main thing that I can think of is emotional distress. That sounds really dramatic, but I mean, like, if I have a really horrible day at work (say, my boss yells at me for something) I’ll find it impossible to write until I’ve cheered up. This doesn’t happen all that often because I’ve become much more accustomed to shrugging off the meaningless stuff that I can’t do anything about, but every now and then I’ll have a fight with someone or something bad will happen to someone I love, and it just completely destroys my ability to concentrate on writing.
I’m easily distracted by music. I listen to songs with lyrics by musicians I love when I am writing. But one always makes me think of the other. They’re better when paired together.
Things that add stress. The creative spark often needs relaxation to ignite. Needing to eat is an annoyance also. What? I just ate yesterday!
Headaches and allergies are worse than nearly any external distraction.
Anyone having an actual conversation within earshot can is more likely to break my conversation than most other sounds. I also have trouble ignoring any sound I can’t identify.
My wife reminding me that I have other family projects that are overdue.
The worst things to break my concentration while writing are my kids and a baseball game. Sometimes I sit down to write in the morning, but the kids have different plans for me. “Watch this, dad.” “Dad, watch me.” “Dad, come here.” “Dad, I need your help.” So what would be 45 minutes of writing turns into an hour and a half or more. Though I do love writing, I suppose I love my kids more.
The internet tends to be my worst distraction. I’ll write a few sentences and then check social media and message boards. Small wonder I make little progress unless I write on paper, because I’ll fall for the internet trap every time.
I’m easily distracted, so it doesn’t take much to distract me from – HEY, The Flash is on!
My personality type (INTJ) is generally the kind that needs quiet to concentrate. When I’m concentrating on something, I don’t like interruptions. That means anyone talking to me, TV, phone calls, and so on. The internet is also bad for my concentration. While I’m good at multitasking, and I can easily blog while the TV is on or people are talking to me, I don’t need to get into the zone for that. But when I’m writing fiction, everything needs to be shut out of my mind or I can’t get any kind of good writing done. So, I can’t write whenever I can hear individual conversations. However, I have managed to write while in McDonald’s. If there’s a buzz of conversation around me, and I don’t hear individual conversations, I have no problem.
How about you?
What kills your concentration? Let us know in the commments below.