Monday, May 9, 2011

Internet Time Thief Often Requires Drastic Measures (and a Simple Solution)

Ok, I admit, sometimes when writing I lack self discipline.  It’s been an ongoing problem lately.  And the culprit (other than me) is the Internet Time Thief!  The Internet is so readily available, a mere click away, and it’s so darn tempting, but it's stealing my time!  But today, following a suggestion that I learned from a staff at MPH following my booktalk on Saturday,I decided enough is enough!  

The problem is, in the middle of writing, I keep finding myself thinking, let me just check to see if I have any emails, or any blog comments?  Or check on my blog stats to see what posts are doing well today?  I’ve been doing this about a dozen times a day (maybe more, especially when bored, restless).  Do I have too much time on my hands?  I’m thinking this will only take a minute, which it does, until I respond to an email that could easily have waitedfor a more opportune time, or get snared by one of those yahoo news stories that suddenly grabs my attention, especially those cute baby or animal YouTube postings. 

Not only does this kill my writing momentum, it gobbles up a lot of time.  Then I got to figure out, now where did I leave off and re-motivate me to get back into the story.  Then half an hour later, I do it again!  What is my problem?  The Internet!   Temptation!  The problem is my own lack of self-discipline!

Lately, I’ve been grumbling about this, even wishing for the old pre-Internet days when I could just work on the computer free of all those temptations trying their hardest to seduce me from my writing!

Then the lady from MPH said, “Sometimes, I switch the Internet off while I'm writing.”

“You can do that?” I heard myself thinking.  Of course, such a simple in-your-face solution!  I felt embarrassed not thinking of that myself.  I keep the Internet on in case I need to research something or verify some fact.  Which, of course, I really don’t need to.  I could do it the old-fashioned way, grab a nearby dictionary or a mini-encyclopedia, get what I want and get back to work.  When I do research on the Internet, true it’s so much faster to find something, but I find myself getting so absorbed in all that information it often becomes yet another distraction from writing!  In other words, counterproductive.  For in-dept research I could save it for non-peak writing time, like in the evening.

So this morning, after catching myself interrupting my work for the umpteenth time, I thought, disconnect it!  Just take away the temptation.  So I did.  I unplugged my Internet connection, and moved it out of reach, so the only way I could reach it is by getting out of my chair.  I didn’t want to make it too easy on myself.

So far it’s working beautifully.  Of course I had to hook it back up in order to post this blog, but then right afterwards, I unplugged it again and got back to revising my novel.  That’s important, since I’m on a deadline and I do need to get it out by the 15th
Sometimes, when you lack discipline (it’s always best to admit these things so you know where the blame truly lies), you just have to take some drastic matters into your own hands.  Wow, such a simple solution to what has become an on-going headache, not to mention a massive waste of time!

Here are links to some of my author-to-author interviews of first novelists:

Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.

Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.

Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day

Chuah Guat Eng,  author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change. 


Beheaded on Road to Nationhood: Sarawak Reclaimed—Part I 


Anonymous said...

boy do i know what you mean! Arrrrgh! i will take your advice to heart and only check email at the beginning and end of my writing days. ta!

Borneo Expat Writer said...

It's nice to know I'm not alone! I prefer to skip that morning email check so I can lock in some work, then I'll check at lunch. (Easy to do if I'm editing on paper.) Otherwise, good news or bad news or even no news in the morning distracts me on my intended writing plans. The trick is to work at least one hour and then hopefully the writing momentum carries me through the day (or until lunch) when I finally give into temptation.

Kim said...

You hit the nail on the head! :-) I am mostly online because I want to chat with family members or when I am searching for teaching resources. I am not like someone I know very well who has 10 or more sites open at one time!

Borneo Expat Writer said...

Kim, they say the Internet is replacing the TV as the biggest time waster. There's a lot of good stuff out there, and some great information, but you got to know when to turn off the tap now and then so you can get some real work done.

For writers, it's too easy to hide behind "research" when what's really going on is professional proscratination. Just makes sure you and not the Internet is control of your writing time.