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I’ve been busy with life as usual the last week, so I’m welcoming Angelita Williams to do a guest post on fighting online distractions. I think we writers could do with a few tips on those, and I love some of Angelita’s tips. Read on:

Write now, Surf Later

How to focus on writing

They’re everywhere–in the office, your children’s school, even inside your home. People tell you to stay away from them altogether. They’re bad for you.  They’ll hinder your creative juices. But their allure is tempting.

Once again they’ve seduced you with their all-too familiar phrase: just one click away. They are online distractions, foe to all writers. These focus killers are lethal and can kill your productivity levels. But they don’t necessarily have to be the reason why you still have blank pages. Here are a few basic tips that will help you complete your future award-winning book while allowing you to still indulge in your guilty pleasure, the Internet.

Realtime Communication. It’s imperative to log out of all applications that demand immediate attention including Instant Messaging, email alerts, RSS alerts, Skype dings, and Facebook chat bings. Basically anything that pops on to your screen that screams stop what you are doing right now and pay attention to me instead. Try telling your friends to email or schedule a voice or video chat at a specific time. It’s less intrusive and you can do it on your time, not theirs. This way you can stay focused on what truly matters–your writing.

Old-School Research. Children born after 1999 don’t even know what a world without the Internet looks like, but you do. Need to do research for your book? Try your very best not to Google it. Get away from your computer and go to the library to find your information. Sometimes it can be inspiring and it’s more likely that printed information will be accurate.

Set Goals. Set a reasonable daily word goal. Dedicate yourself to writing a certain amount of pages everyday and do absolutely nothing else but write. Something simple like two to three pages in intervals of twenty to thirty minutes works best. The key is to do this everyday and condition yourself to just writing for that time frame. That way you are being productive and still have time to play or browse the Internet afterwards if you wish.

Breaks.  Mandatory. After all, you have to eat, stretch and relax your mind. But if you find yourself taking too many of them, try using a dashboard timer that freezes your computer screen and tells you to “Take a break” the last 10 minutes of every hour. It will allow you time to check email, Twitter, Facebook or do whatever you’d like. Chances are you’ll write more and be productive knowing that those 10 minutes will come eventually.

Last Resort. If you just can’t seem to stay away, going cold turkey is an option. Whether it’s unplugging your network cable, turning off your modem or switching off the wifi-channel, you can make the Internet go away. Don’t feel comfortable turning everything completely off? Then trick yourself into believing that you have. No matter what operating system your computer runs on, there are special programs designed to block out online distractions. These programs provide you with a black screen with colored text which expands to cover your task bars, docks, and your entire desktop, providing a distraction free, writing environment.

It’s important to know that a little distraction isn’t always harmful. As long as you only indulge in moderation, your novel will be completed soon enough.


This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams who welcomes your comments at her email : angelita.williams7

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Mar says:

    Good tips here! 🙂

  • Gargi Mehra says:

    Very good tips. Distraction in moderation is good, but requires great self-control to achieve.

  • Would that I be capable of a controlled mechanical method of writing creatively. Or to be able to paint that way, or anything else for that matter. As far as writing goes, I’m so slow that keep stopping would ensure a break in thought just as a thread begins to develop. I can only write as inspired, jot down odd things as they come to me and then develop them on the computer.
    Fortunately I have not been lured by twitter, I don’t know what skype is, I only look at facebook when I want be in contact with someone, I get few Emails that I can’t just delete. I get up early and clear my inbox. The Internet is essential for fact finding.
    I may not get thousands of hits every week on my several web sites, nor do bloggers rush to read my latest book, but I do manage to keep sane and active for an oldie.