A new survey of 1000 British writers has revealed pets might get the blame for a creator not finishing their book, but the Internet is often the major distraction from getting things done during the working day.
The survey, undertaken for Stop Procrastinating (www.stopprocrastinatingapp.com), the productivity application, has been launched as Nanowrimo – the National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November – begins, to help inspire thousands of UK writers who are preparing to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.
The survey discovered a range of domestic and life issues that distracted the most creative amongst us from fulfilling their dreams and finishing their novel.
Respondents to the survey claimed the following distracted them most from writing: sex; dating sites; tiredness; staying late at work; food; chocolate; their partner distracting them by offering them a cup of tea or alcoholic drink, turning on the TV or chatting; pets jumping on their lap or turning off the computer; taking the dog for a walk and a family argument.
Digital distractions such as emails, social media and the internet were also most likely to prevent them from writing, while some respondents even claimed envy of the success of other writers stopped them having the motivation to continue writing.
Broken down, the survey still found that the internet was the biggest single distraction during the actual process of writing. 59 per cent of UK writers claimed to have turned to browsing the internet for inspiration only to be lose hours reading articles or watching videos.
Most interesting is what they were viewing. Most writers didn’t turn to the great works for inspiration, but were more likely to watch YouTube videos. (God help anyone who follows this link to Simon’s Cat on YouTube, then). 20 per cent of those who said they were distracted by the internet from writing said they had watched a funny animal video at least once to help get them through a creative block; eight per cent said they were distracted by a dating site; another two per cent said wouldn’t admit to what they browsed.
Yet 15 per cent of respondents claimed real life animals posed a risk to undermining their writing achievements. Cats jumping on their owners lap for affection was the biggest culprit, while others claimed their dog had pulled the lead from the computer in the middle of crafting the perfect sentence.
10 per cent of people claimed they often ate their reward for finishing writing, such as food or chocolate, before they’d reached their writing goal for the day. And 17 per cent were so desperate to avoid writing that they did the washing up or emptied the bins.
22 per cent claimed that their partner has distracted them by suggesting watching the next episode of a box set for a ‘creative break’, while others came into their room with a welcoming drink and chatted for more than half an hour before leaving.
Three per cent of respondents said that rather than get back to writing they had had sex with their partner.
32 per cent said that they were too tired to write either from work or partying too hard. While 24 per cent said they often couldn’t write because they had stayed too late at work and didn’t have time.
Will Little, creator of www.stopprocrastinatingapp.com, said: “Nanowrimo is a great celebration of writing, but sometimes even with the best of intentions writers become distracted.
“The grip of creativity to write is tenuous, it seems, prone to slip in the face of the slightest distraction. The smallest gestures such as a warming cup of coffee from a partner, or a cat jumping up for a stroke, or the distant sound of their favourite TV programme starting can be all it takes to have the writer running from the computer and away from the creative urge,” he said.
“But often the distraction is staring them in the face. The writer’s tool, the computer, is part of an interconnected planet that exists, it seems, to distract and toy with our concentration. It can take only seconds from typing a lyrical sentence to answering an email or watching a funny animal video on YouTube, and the creative moment is lost,” he said.
“Sometimes all it takes is for the writer to set down their goals – how many words they want to write and how long it will take them. Goal setting is hard wired into our brains and when we set them we are more likely to achieve our objectives.
“But sometimes writers need that extra push – to turn off the internet completely or at least filter out social media or the most distracting websites. Barring the offer of a hot drink from their partner or the sound of padded feet, they should then be set up to create their masterpiece.”
• Comic creator? What distracts you from getting your project finished? Why not leave a comment here rather than on Facebook and we’ll find a distracting graphic novel for the funniest excuse for not getting any work done you come up with. Cartoons accepted, but you may have to include a link to them. Entries by Wednesday 12th November 2014 12 noon UK time.