Is there a writer who isn’t lured and waylaid by the distractions of the internet and email?
Is there a writer who hasn’t written about those same distractions?
How about you? How well did you do today? Did you stay on task and reach your writing goal for the day? Or did procrastination and Facebook win out?
My dissertation coaching clients are trying to use the Nothing Alternative—that is, during the time they’ve set aside to write, they write… or do nothing. They tell me, though, that the Nothing Alternative strains their willpower. They do better if they remove the temptation of the internet.
Several clients are using SelfControl software or the Anti-Social app to lock them out of the internet. This week I heard about another program—Freedom.
The client who told me about Freedom said that even though he has used it successfully, he frequently has to talk himself into setting it up. And why would he resist a successful strategy? Because once he has it up and running, he will have robbed himself of his excuses not to write. It’s write or do nothing.
My client is in good company.
Writer Nora Ephron says that every morning she spends several hours “failing to make a transition” from reading the morning newspaper to working and being productive. To help to fight her urge to procrastinate, she sets up Freedom on her computer to lock out the internet.
Seth Godin, the master marketer, blogger, and author, is also a fan of Freedom. He compares using Freedom “with being cornered with nowhere to turn.” And the advantage of being cornered, he says, is “that it leaves you . . . unable to stall or avoid the real work.”
Novelist Zadie Smith speaks knowingly of the lure of the internet. She says, “When I am using the Internet, I am addicted. I’m not able to concentrate on anything else.” To give herself time to write, she uses Freedom, but she still has to put her phone (on which she can get email) “in another part of the house, it’s pathetic. Like a drug addict. I put it in a cupboard so that I can write for five hours.”
My clients ask the same questions that Smith asks, “Is it me alone? Am I making it up? Does nobody feel this way?”
Writing is hard work, and most of us yearn for distraction, especially something as mindless as the internet and email. Lock it all up—give yourself some freedom!
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com