Stop the Internet from Stopping You
by Elizabeth Cole
Based on a conversation with Rochelle, we made a plan to identify our productivity obstacles and use the month of September to test new ways around them. Since I get easily distracted by the internet (sound familiar, anyone?), my plan was to turn off my connection every morning from 8am to noon. After lunch, I’d check in with social, respond to emails, etc. And that would leave me a whole morning to write! I was motivated, since I needed to complete final revisions and accept my proofreader’s notes on Wake Me Up, my new novel. Writing ahoy!
Sounds easy, right?
Well. It didn’t quite work out how I planned. The biggest difficulty was that my schedule was wildly different than usual, thanks to a lot of traveling—half my month I was away from home. What’s more, the travel involved my family and the outdoors (where wifi was scarce!). It was great for my mental health, but not great for working. Some days I barely opened my laptop! (All photos from gorgeous Acadia National Park in Maine.)
In that sense, it was easy to ignore the internet. This is Way #1 to avoid the internet: be too busy living life to go online at all. But I didn’t really get a chance to test my “connection-free morning” plan since I was so busy doing non-writing things.
However, I do think that I learned another lesson, which is that it’s unrealistic to expect perfect scheduling and consistent productivity when life intervenes. As writers, we are often bound up in word count goals, and hitting (or missing) deadlines, and generally feeling bad that we haven’t already written that novel we just thought of last week.
That’s untenable. And it’s unhealthy. Taking two weeks off from BOTH the internet and writing showed me that there’s a real value in upending our routines and exceptions. I loved hiking in Acadia and eating lobster and enjoying a new place I’d never seen before. I loved it way more than hitting another several thousand words in my WIP.
That said, writers gotta write. Now that I’m back home and not traveling for a while, I’m looking forward to reestablishing my writing habits —and improving them! I still intend to turn off the internet in the morning and focus on writing (instead of checking out pre-holiday sales……#noshame). This is Way #2 to avoid the internet: have an intentional plan.
I have a few tips for you if you’d like to try a similar intervention:
1. Use your computer settings or an app like Freedom to block your internet connection during your working hours.
2. Have a notepad to jot down things you want to look up online — and then look them up ONLY after you’re done writing for the day.
3. Make your online time as short as possible by making it into a game — how fast can you respond to 3 emails? How long can you avoid checking in on Facebook?
I’ll report back on how my October goes, and I hope I’ll learn more about my personal productivity stumbling blocks as I get into the draft on my next novel!
+This is the second post in a two-part series. Yesterday’s post was: The Upside of Going Offline.
About the author. Elizabeth Cole writes historical romance, mostly. She can be found hanging around museums, coffeeshops, and graveyards…but not after dark. Elizabeth loves hearing from readers, because otherwise she starts taking the cat’s advice a little too seriously. Connect with her and sign up to get early alerts for new titles at elizabethcole.co
Her latest book is not historical, but it is perfect for Halloween. Wake Me Up is a spooky, sexy, sometimes silly paranormal romance. Also, there are cats! You can learn more at https://elizabethcole.co/wake-me-up