Shit just got real around here, with me needing to start a new Kimberley Freeman, finish my novella collection, and write an academic paper. It’s a big scary bottleneck of WRITE SOMETHING, BITCH so I’ve had to have a long hard look at my writing habits, which have been a bit slippery of late.
We all understand that to write we have to sit at our keyboards (for example, I’m sitting at mine right now, in bed with the electric blanket on… this is my favourite way to work). But I don’t think sitting at the keyboard is specific enough advice anymore. Do you know why? Because of the siren call of the FUCKING internet, which clearly doesn’t want me to get my work done.
Because in every writing project—creative or otherwise—there comes a moment where you hit a slow spot and you’re not quite sure what to write next. Now at this stage, many of us will pop open an internet browser. Guess what, you just walked away from the work. You just got up and walked away. Worse: you just put your writing out of your head too. At least if you take a little walk around your garden, you can still be mulling it over. Let me make this really clear to you:
• When you google a bit of research, you have walked away from your work and are now in a library. That’s kind of okay, but it’s a library where there are a lot of celebrity gossip mags lying around that have enticing headlines.
• When you open Facebook, you have walked away from your work and are now in a room full of your friends and they are all bored and talking derp and exchanging hilarious animal pictures.
• When you start instant messaging on Skype or Google Talk or whatever, you have walked away from your work to chat with a friend.
• When you slide over to your favourite blogs, you have walked away from work and are reading a magazine instead.
• When you check your email, you have walked away from your work and up to your letterbox, collected your mail and opened it and started composing responses.
You wouldn’t do this in any other job and expect to get things completed. In all these examples, not only have you stopped writing, but you’ve stopped thinking about your writing. You’ve killed your flow. ERMERGERD!
Simply reframing your internet procrastination as wandering away from your work can really help. When your mouse is hovering over that Firefox logo, you must say to yourself sharply, “Don’t get up. Don’t walk away. Be here in the story.” The internet will wait for you. And the animals are never that funny anyway. Except that sneezing baby panda. He’s awesome.