Sunday, October 30, 2011

Block the Internet

The blogpost title is ironic, right? If you block the internet, you can't read the blogpost. Nonetheless, it's good advice.

I'm making my way through the new issue of Poets & Writers, which seems to have more good stuff in than usual, which is saying something, because it's usually filled with useful and/or interesting articles. This time, there's fodder for several blogposts, but I'm going to start with one that really hit home.

Novelist Ellen Sussman's article, "A Writer's Daily Habit: Four Steps to Higher Productivity," is straightforward, relevant to most writers I know, and easily implementable. The 4 steps? The first is "Prewriting Prep"--meditation. I would suggest that there are other ways to clear the mind in order to prepare for the work ahead, but meditation works. Next is "Block the Internet"--and I couldn't agree more. Sussman even recommends the Freedom software program that I've been using lately, because apparently her willpower is no stronger than mine. I'm so pleased to see that another writer--a successful writer--relies on this program. Next is Sussman's "Unit System"--and I'm not quite as sold on this one. In essence, she divides her writing time into one hour blocks but spends the last 15 minutes of each hour on a break, whether it's beginning the laundry or dinner or taking the dog out, or whatever. She's still writing during that time--her mind is still on the work--but it has a restorative effect that allows her to return to the desk with new energy when the next unit begins. Finally, she recommends "Daily Writing"--which doesn't need explanation. I completely agree with this one, too, especially for longer projects where it's important to keep it all in your head. If you take too much time away from it, don't be surprised if you end up with loose ends and dropped threads.

More on this issue in the coming week.


Brad Wirz said...

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Any chance you can mention us in your blog???

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Ru Freeman said...

I read the same article and have been dabbling with the same idea - Freedom. Let me know how it goes (when you unblock!)

Clifford Garstang said...

@Brad, see the more recent post

@Ru, I've used Freedom for a few months now, when I feel I need it. This morning I blocked the internet for 3 hours and got done what I needed to do. The program does NOT however prevent you from getting up to get more coffee, take the dog out, etc. In other words, all natural means of procrastination are still available to you. But the deadly internet, at least, is eliminated.

Andrea (Andee) Beltran said...

I enjoyed her article as well and think blocking the internet is the best advice. I am still on the fence about the units of time, too. I am looking up Freedom this afternoon...I seem to procrastinate most on the internet.

Brad Wirz said...

Clifford, can't thank you enough for helping us spread the word!

Mary Akers said...

I loved that article and tried her methods today. They worked great! It feels like I'll be able to keep it up, too. Here's hoping.

(And how perfect, my word verification is "acksonit.")