This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Monday, March 07, 2011

Is the Internet a Distraction to Your Writing?

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I've heard lots of people complaining how email, blogging, Facebook, and other necessary evils are keeping them from getting their writing done. This isn't about the Internet. It's about your self-discipline.

If checking your email and Facebook page first thing in the morning is a habit you've gotten into, you need to break this habit. It makes you feel obligated to answer people and respond to them right then and there. Before you know it, a couple of hours have gone by and no writing has been accomplished. Instead, use these things as a reward after you've reached a small writing milestone. 

Put Yourself on a Schedule
Discipline yourself to write 1,000 or 2,000 words in the morning before you allow yourself to check email or Facebook. Once you reach this writing goal, don't stop just because you've reached it--especially if you're on a roll with your story. 

Don't use the excuse that you need to do research on the Internet before you go on with your story. Throw in a sentence or word as a place holder. Highlight it in a different color, make a notation of the page number and move on. Research is a necessity, but it can also be another excuse to play on the Internet.

Allow one hour for Facebook and email--no more. Do you really need to answer every email? Some emails definitely require a response because people are asking for information or your input on something. Say what needs to be said. Writing a novel in an email isn't necessary. Read over it, make necessary changes and corrections, and move on. If you feel the need to acknowledge an email because you may have had issues with spam filters in the past, type something simple and quick such as "I appreciate it. Thanks." Move on. 

Block Facebook games. They are time wasters. If you enjoy them, limit yourself to only play them on weekends or late at night after you've finished your work and too tired to work. Respond to comments and posts on your page first. Then scroll through the newswire and hit the "like" button more than leaving comments, except for the ones you really want to comment on. Take similar action steps for Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Shelfari, and Shoutlife. You can also link these accounts and do things from one place to save time, but that is another blog post.

Shut off noise distractions. You know, the little nifty sounds that your iphone or Droid might use to alert you that you've just received a new email, or FB or Twitter comment. Same thing with your computer. Turn off the sound alerts. They only serve as distractions while you're trying to write. 

Research on the Internet
Make yourself write another 1,000 to 2,000 words before you begin your Internet Research. Once you complete this goal, write down several search terms before you begin your search. This will help you remember what terms you've already used and you can scratch them off. It keeps you from wasting more time and typing in phrases you've already used. 

These are just a few discipline techniques that will help you not waste time. What other ideas have you used or what other suggestions do you have?