I recently wrote a blog post on The Top Six Ways to Procrastinate as a Writer. As you can imagine, it referenced a lot of internet related items like Facebook and Twitter. I thought it might only be fair to balance this with some ideas to get busy and productive.
1. Disconnect Your Router. Seriously, I have done this on more than one occasion. Turning off the connection at the computer is not enough. You must unplug the router from the wall and count on the fact that the internet and all your email will still be there when you plug it back in later. This will make it tougher to quickly jump on Twitter to type that one tweet. Doing this leads you down a slippery slope. It’s a few keystrokes from typing a tweet to checking everyone’s status on Facebook, reading your email and browsing the news for the latest publishing sensation. Avoid the temptation all together. Mark anything you need to “research” for later.
2. Turn off the Phones. This includes the cell and the landline. You can ignore the ringing but the damage is already done. The sound of the phone alone and the fact that someone is trying to reach me has already broken my train of thought. Don’t worry. Let people leave a message. Imagine that all the missed calls are telemarketers. It will make things easier. If anyone complains about being unable to reach you later, tell them your phone ran out of charge. This even works for landlines if you have cordless phones like I do.
3. Music. I have a playlist that I listen to when I write of nice, non-intrusive songs. I play it only when I write and over time I think it has trained my mind to be in a writing mood when the music comes on. In order to make this work, it is important you don’t play it during non-writing times. The music should be something that engages the mind on a low level without making you want to follow it too closely. Therefore, the selections should contain no words. Save P!nk and Adele for another time. I recommend some nice Windham Hill stuff like George Winston or Liz Story – contemporary and pleasing.
4. Skip the Household Chores. It is so very tempting to throw in a quick load of laundry or empty the dishwasher. It seems so very innocuous and productive. But is it really? Truly, this stuff does need to get done but so does the writing. More writing will get done with some non-interrupted blocks. Make a block for writing and a block for household maintenance. Try (hard) to stick to it.
5. Writing Buddy and/or Timers. These are items to try to keep you honest. Some people like to do 1H1K and I see people teaming up on Twitter for this. Sometimes I set the timer on the iPad and say I am writing for X number of minutes and I don’t get up until the timer goes off. If the timer doesn’t work for you, you need a real person – someone who will ask you if you were butt in chair for the agreed upon time. Just the thought of having to say “No, I decided to take out the garbage and make a peanut butter sandwich” will usually keep you seated.
6. Inspiration. I have a few things that I like to look at for inspiration that sometimes help keep me on track. It might be some tales of success of other authors. It might be a video. I have a great one of Nora Roberts discussing her writing habits. She’ll make you feel lazy but she’s right when she says you can fix bad writing. You can always edit and revise. You can’t fix a blank page.
I hope I’ve given you a few ideas to use the next time you can’t seem to get down to work. What do you do to keep yourself on track?