The Internet and Productivity

Recently, I asked the helpful folks at the Writers of the Future forums for suggestions on how to develop a business plan.  Martin L. Shoemaker, two-time WotF finalist and one of the most helpful people I’ve had the privilege to know, replied with a fabulous list of links.  I went to the first one on the list, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Freelancer’s Survival Guide.

The Freelancer’s Survival Guide is available at that link as a series of blog posts, but as soon as I started delving into it–it’s huge–I knew that I needed to have this in a more portable and permanent form, so I bought it for my Kindle.

I take a bath before I go to bed every night.  It’s my downtime/reading time.  One of the few places where I can focus for an extended period of time (note the lack of an internet in the bathtub).  A perfect place to learn about writing as a business.

There is so much information in the Freelancer’s Survival Guide that it is sometimes overwhelming.  I’m also not at a point where I’m ready to consider quitting my day job to rely entirely on my writing as my income.  Not by a long shot.  A lot of what I’m reading isn’t immediately applicable, although it’s knowledge that will come in handy when I’m ready for it.

What really speaks to me, though, is the necessity of focused, distraction-free writing time.

“But I write!” my little mind protests.  “I sit at my laptop and I open a word document!  I think about words.  I even write them!”

What I’ve been ignoring is how the instant I hit a snag–a plot point I don’t know exactly how I want to approach, a scene that’s uncomfortable to write, or I simply don’t like the way the words look on the page–I immediately retreat to my happy place, the internet.

It’s so easy to feel like reading or talking about writing is writing.  I’ve been able to convince myself that it counts.  But it isn’t, and it doesn’t.  My productivity has been low for years.  It was time to make a change.

I tried to set up parental controls on myself, to limit my internet access.  That led to frustration and a laggy computer, so I deleted the program and tried again.  What I found instead is called Freedom.  I can block myself off the internet for a length of time of my choosing.

Since I started using Freedom, for a minimum of one hour per day, I’ve experienced a significant boost in my productivity.  I’ve gone from 1,000 words every two weeks, if I was lucky, to closer to 1,000 words a day.

I’m forcing myself past the hard parts.  Those uncomfortable scenes get written, and it’s amazing how the uncomfortable scenes are usually the most powerful.

So thank you, Martin, for pointing me to the Freelancer’s Survival Guide, and thank you Kristine Kathryn Rusch for writing it.  It’s been a sorely needed kick in the pants.

Now it’s time to get this posted, then turn on my Freedom and get some real work done.

2 thoughts on “The Internet and Productivity

  1. Hooray for productivity! I've been looking at Freedom as well. So far I meet my word goals, but I think I could do better if I didn't have the distractions while I write. Thanks for your post!! I was also working on a blog post on the science of procrastination — big topic for everyone and great minds think alike and all 🙂

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