The internet can be a great source of information and a great time waster. It happens to me every time I check Publishers Marketplace or write a blog post. One thing leads to another and before you know it the time you set aside to work is over. Is it simply procrastination or avoiding bigger projects?
(Ironically, I realize that many writers read agent, author and editor blogs which keeps me motivated not to waste anyone’s time when I post!)
Physical restrictions. Turn off the wifi on your laptop so even when you habitually click on Safari or Firefox you can’t get anywhere. If you must turn the wifi back on ask yourself if it is 100% necessary.
Write in a place that is conducive to productivity. Do you have a favourite chair, table space or coffee shop? Is it your favourite because you work the best there? It should be.
Make deadlines. Debut authors: set deadlines for yourself like a contracted author would have.
Fearlessness. Authors on your second or third book don’t be intimidated by the first book, good or bad, move on to your current project with gusto.
Focus your online presence. Are you a debut? Be selective following blogs, writing your own or who you follow on Twitter so you don’t have too much to check every day. Are you an established author? Ask your publicist, marketing team or website manager to help manage followers and comments or direct you to someone that can. To all writers: You can’t do it all, those that are have help.
Manage notifications and email alerts. Log into Twitter/Facebook/Blog/Flickr/QueryTracker/Google+/StumbleUpon sites (see how social media sets you up to get distracted?) and select only the notifications you can’t live without, or else your email will ping all day.
Brainstorming vs Procrastination. Don’t mistake one for the other. One is a catalyst for creativity and the other snuffs it.
Time wasting exceptions. Only use the internet to check emails once an hour (or some other arbitrary number). Or have your husband, girlfriend, parents, children, agent or editor on a certain ringtone or email alert so you don’t perk up to junk mail etc. For my Blackberry I use Who Is It light alerts.
Incessant procrastination can be absolved! Ask yourself why you are doing it, what emotions you are trying to push down with information intake and make a plan to overcome whatever is actually stressing you out.
- Fear it won’t be good enough when you actually sit down to write?
- Afraid you’re a one hit wonder?
- Scared of negative reviews?
- Worried it’s not procrastination but writer’s block?
Address your fears and accept them so you can make a plan to stop the stressors in your writing life. The internet isn’t going to be introspective for you, that’s your job. Wasting time and procrastination means there is something more important you should be doing and you know it.
Those interested time wasting via Twitter, like me, find me here. ; )
See this great post on time as currency on the internet from Justine Musk.