Advice Column

I am trying to work on a book and find myself drawn away from it by a number of things, especially the constantly changing, updating, world-improving, timesucking, doesn't-love-you-back internet. It's a challenge to avoid its call. Some strategies I have been trying...

1. Don't use a computer. This doesn't do it for me unless I'm reading a book.

2. Go work somewhere that doesn't have internet. I like the Alterra coffee shop on Prospect Ave., which charges for WiFi after 12:00 pm. I get a lot done there. Downside: it takes 10 minutes to drive each way, which wastes time and gas. Also, they sell really good, high-calorie baked goods. Yet another downside: sometimes I have my camera with me and I start taking pictures when I should be doing something else, e.g.,

Pink Umbrella

And another: there's an Urban Outfitters down the street and I always browse in there when I have the chance.

3. Use WriteRoom, the word processor that blacks out everything but your words (screenshot). This is good for writing a first draft but if you need to use footnotes or formatting or to work with your research online, it's a drag.

4. If you use gmail, enable the "take a break" option (from the gmail labs menu under settings). When you click "take a break," it deprives you of access to your email for 15 minutes. Along the same lines, if you're logged into gmail, choose "go invisible" in that chat window so that no one will start IM'ing with you just when you have begun to be productive.

5. Disable any email alert sounds. I did this years ago.

6. Remove Facebook from your bookmarks. This doesn't work for me because it's not that hard to type "facebook" into the address bar.

7. Don't blog. Sometimes I write something for this blog just to "get myself writing." Does Not Work.


girish said...

Michael, thanks for the tip on Writeroom (which I'd never heard of). I've been fooling around with it this afternoon after I read your post and I like the look and feel of it even though I haven't tried writing anything but first drafts on it yet.

Best with the book!

the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

Afn rekhtn fus, m,

In my experience, more blogging correlates with more writing, but I think the later might stimulate the former rather than the other way.