No, no… don’t get up.

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.

21 responses to “No, no… don’t get up.

  1. I’m going to print out those bullet points and leave it next to my keyboard…all so very true and easy to forget THAT is what you are doing

  2. Y can I no share your posts to Facebook?? Because I read this while I “thought about that to write next” on my writing assignment. Ha. Irony. Little spooky actually. A little like you just slapped a ruler down on the table and said “uh! Uh-uh-uhhhh. No. Back to work. No browsing for you!” …. Ohkay😦

  3. “Simply reframing your internet procrastination as wandering away from your work…”. I LOVE that. I am always looking for new ways/tricks to keep myself focused and on task. Thanks for sharing a new perspective!

  4. Thank you for hanging a lantern on that one! I only write “not connected to the internet” for that very reason. So when I hit a slow spot, I really do go out for a walk or clean something … because physical action helps me solve puzzles internally.

  5. Good words, well timed. Procrastinatory as my being here may appear, I prefer to file it under ‘swift and very necessary arse kicking.’ Thank you.

  6. When I turn my computer on the first thing I do is connect to the internet so that I can check my emails and Facebook and my blog stats ……. no more! I have to learn to check these things only once a day – at the end of the day🙂

  7. Fine. Fine…I’ve been staying and not walking away or getting up. And my second novel is one week away from the first professional edit. Hip-hip-horray! But…no, big BUT… you should take a look at my website/blog statistics right now! Pitiful! The little darlings out there have to have constant stimulation, i.e., new blog posts, cute photos and comments on your Facebook wall and theirs, and deep, abiding Tweets or the sweet little “thangs” seem to forget about you! Sigh. At least my novel will march through to publication, but will my social-media platform collapse in the process?

  8. Pingback: Queensland Literary Awards finalists announced, plus some writerly advice « Vampires in the Sunburnt Country

  9. Just to let you know I got two useful ideas from the internet today while walking away.
    1. Keep several writing projects going at once so if your creativity wanes on one, you can pick up another and keep writing.
    2. Don’t walk away from your writing by clicking on the internet.
    So, okay, I’m going to turn off the internet now.

    • Just FYI that first piece of advice is nonsense. You should immerse yourself in one project at a time and that will sustain your creativity through love.😉

  10. Kim, we were classmates at Clontarf High, and, while we’ve been in touch since, I’m so happy to find your blog. I love your style. F***g funny. And thanks for this post. Captain Distraction is heeding your words.

  11. Hi, Kim;

    “Let the joy of writing sustain you”–that’s what you told us in a guest lecture you gave last year to 3rd year writing students. Well, this little gem of advice has been adorning my writing desk since, and has often given me the kick-start I need. I’d just like to let you know how much I appreciate your wise words.

    I’ve just quoted you in a list of my favourite writing advice– http://alanabrekelmans.wordpress.com/green-tea-for-a-creative-soul/.

    Thanks again,
    A.

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