Episode #213

How the Sale of Your Attention Affects Your Writing and Publishing

Today’s episode tackles a topic weighing on my mind: how the sale of attention impacts our writing and publishing endeavors. I delve into the intricate ways social media platforms and apps are designed to capture and retain our attention, often at the expense of our productivity and focus.


Smartphones and streaming services have made access to content constant, posing significant challenges when concentrating on writing tasks. The pervasive attention economy is an obstacle to high-level problem-solving and overwhelms our brains. This episode is 100% judgment-free. I am struggling with the urge to pick up my phone, too. So, I end the discussion with strategies I’ve employed to combat attention distractions, such as removing certain apps from my phone and prioritizing reading over mindless scrolling. Through candid insights, I underscore the importance of reclaiming control over our attention to foster better writing and publishing outcomes.

Join me on this journey to explore how we can navigate the digital landscape and reclaim our focus to enhance our scholarly writing and publications! 


3 Effects the Attention Economy Has On Your Writing

#1 Time Wasted – Everyone underestimates the time spent scrolling on their smartphone. The top reason academics say they don’t write is a lack of time. Our attention has been eroded, negatively impacting our focus and ability to write.

#2 Buffers Challenges – As academics and scholars, we constantly solve high-level and complex problems. Our brain has been conditioned to seek the dopamine hit of social media, so whenever boredom strikes or something becomes too difficult, we reach for the phone to avoid discomfort.

#3 Fills in Downtime – We must let our minds decompress when not actively working on a task. If our downtime is filled with social media, the brain never gets an opportunity to make connections, integrate, or generate new ideas.

What I Do & How It Helps My Writing and Publishing

Like you, I struggle with limiting my time on my phone. I am working on rewiring my brain to get rid of the urge to check social media or scroll. Here are some things I am actively implementing in my life to replace phone time with more fulfilling and productive activities that support my writing and publishing.

  • All social media apps are deleted from my phone.
  • I unfollowed podcasts that weren’t inspiring new ideas for me.
  • Switch my brain from wanting to scroll to one that wants to read.
  • Going for walks when trying to solve a problem.

It is so important to nurture and support your brain. If you also feel like the attention economy negatively impacts your life, I encourage you to take action and find things that bring you joy away from the screen.


“Phone and social media apps are designed to hold our attention and keep us on the app. They are so well designed to give us that dopamine hit, when we go to do scholarly tasks or a task that we just don’t want to do, we have the urge to pick up the phone because your brain wants the dopamine hit.” 


“The sale of your attention, or the attention economy, really makes it easy to buffer and do something else with your brain instead of, or whenever, the writing gets hard. We need to replace this urge with something else.”



  1. Our 12-week Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap® program helps tenure-track womxn and nonbinary professors to publish their backlog of papers so that their voice can have the impact they know is possible. Apply here!
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