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How Freelance Writers Can Deal With “World Noise”

World NoiseI’m a fan of Mark’s Daily Apple and this week he had a post called How to Deal with Health “Noise”As I read it I realized that we freelance writers have to deal with what I’m calling “World Noise.”

For example, today feels very noisy for me.

  • I’m expecting an email from a new client.
  • There is a webinar I want to listen to (fortunately it’s recorded.)
  • I have a sales letter to develop.
  • I have a meeting at 1:30
  • I’d like to make some calls for my favorite senate candidates.
  • And… there are a few things from yesterday I absolutely need to get done today.
  • And… a girlfriend just sent me a message asking if I have time for a phone chat.

Believe it or not, it’s just 9:32 in the morning here!

Quiet world noise with choice

When my world gets noisy, sometimes the distractions are loud enough I forget that I have choice. But I do. You do too.

In fact, as freelance writers we have more choice than many. I can remember how frustrated I used to get when trying to write in an office amid what felt like constant interruptions.

Today, since I work at home I can do things like turn off the phone. I’ve trained my immediate neighbors to not bother me until the afternoon unless there’s a fire. I can mentally slap my hand to keep from compulsively checking email.

That’s what I mean by choice.

As I write this I realize I’m making a choice – to focus on this post and much of the noise of my world has dropped off. I mean since I’ve made a choice I don’t feel so jangly and pressured by all the other things I might have chosen.

John Soares has a post called Be A More Productive Writer by Deciding What NOT to Do. The secret is right there in the word ‘deciding.’

Okay, how do you decide?

When the world’s noise, whether it’s self created or seeming to come from the outside it’s easy enough to say something like “pick the most important thing.” Yeah, right.

If you’re anything like me, you hit periods of time and/or situations where it seems almost impossible to make a choice – maybe about anything. I dithered for a good hour this morning simply because I started feeling overwhelmed by all I wanted to get done. I can’t really see what’s important through the fog of noise that’s in my head.

I’d forgotten that not only was not everything I had on my list going to get done today, there was no way I could do it all.

The secret of quieting world noise

Yes, there is a secret!

The way to quiet the noisy world is to pick something to do and stick with it until it’s done or until a significant amount is completed.

It really doesn’t matter what you choose – it’s the act of choosing then taking action on your choice that makes the magic.

Here are some examples of things you could pick:

  • Write something you suspect will move you closer to your goals.
  • Do a piece for a client that you know you can get done quickly.
  • Take a walk.
  • Read a novel
  • Nap for an hour
  • Start a project you’ve been putting off.

You see, it doesn’t even have to be writing related – sometimes we need naps, or time to read mind candy or to exercise. And even if we don’t need any of those right this moment, deciding to do one or another and doing it quiets all the mind chatter of what else needs to be done.

Next time you find yourself drowning in world noise (love the mixed metaphor there, but it feels right), just stop and choose what you’re going to do then take action on that. Notice how, after a bit, your world has become less noisey.

Not so by the way, I didn’t turn off the phone when I started this, and yes, it just rang… I let it ring and kept writing. They can leave a message.

How do you quiet the noisy world?


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Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer





{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Great post Anne!

    The truth is that many times I also get overwhelmed with all the tasks freelance writing requires (pitching, writing blog posts, writing for clients, using social media etc). Needless to mention all the other daily distractions from neighbors, family… Picking just one task and starting from there in small steps is something that has really helped me.

  • Very good advice in this post Anne. The two most important things I do when I feel I need a break from writing is to take a walk or a short nap. (I always set an alarm for 15-30 minutes so I know I won’t just sleep for hours.)

    And thanks for referring to my blog post!
    John Soares recently posted..Does Your Freelance Writing Niche Have Busy Seasons?My Profile

  • jorgekafkazar

    I’m not sure ‘noise’ is the best metaphor, since noise is usually extraneous to work, life, and matters at hand, unwanted distractions over which we have no control.

    It’s more like being whelmed–a surfeit of want/need related items. I struggle with this daily. My solution is to sort the demands into (1) Must Be Done Today and (2) Can Put Off Till Tomorrow.

    If that doesn’t give clarity, I shorten the time-frame until I’m down to, for example, two items that need to be done this hour. I usually start with the one that can be done the soonest, just for morale purposes, sometimes the one that’s the most fun.

  • Love this, Anne. It really is our choice. I like to quiet the world by taking a walk. My area is still largely rural and the “noise” is more natural than the blasting sound of social media and other distractions. 😉
    Cathy Miller recently posted..The Great LinkedIn Networking DebateMy Profile

  • Does this mean we get to add naps and doggie walks to our accountability lists?

    My noise this morning was a nasty sinus headache. It’s finally lifting, so this afternoon should prove more productive. I hope.
    Paula Hendrickson recently posted..The Upside of ColdMy Profile

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