The Internet, as great as it is, can often be detrimental to your writing. In this day and age it’s all too easy to be distracted by websites, social media and a never ending stream of notifications popping up on our computers, tablets and smartphones. It’s a noisy place to be, and it makes the creative process much harder to get through if we’re being bombarded by things left, right and centre.
With writing in particular there is a very good chance that, once you sit down or during a brief lull in your writing, you’ll feel the urge to click on that social media icon, pay a visit to your favourite news site or break open one of the hundreds of different distractions that will stop you from getting the job done. Emails too – turn off all of it. Anything and everything that could be a distraction, get away from it and lock yourself away until you’ve finished. In some cases, this also means getting away from the family for a little while. They will understand. And they don’t, then they’re clearly not right for you.
So here’s my advice: when you are sitting down to write, turn off your wifi, unplug your network cable, and get away from the connected world in which we live. Just switch it off.
Don’t worry, it will still be there when you’re done. Well, assuming there isn’t a global apocalypse or something while you’re off the grid. But if that were the case you’d probably have a bit more to worry about than whether or not your friend or celebrity crush has posted a new photograph on Instagram.
Get away from the world, break away from the distractions and do what you planned to do at the beginning. Write.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do any research. Far from it. Just don’t do it when you’re settling in to commit words to the page or screen. I’m not a fan of doing research as I write. Instead, I do all of that before I start drafting. Once that initial stage is complete and I have my script or novel outline in front of me, I turn off notifications, move away politely from the social media landscape, and write.
I know this is might prove difficult, so how about you break away from the “constantly on” habit in smaller chunks? Try a timer like the Pomodoro Technique and write without distraction for 20 or 30 minute chunks. Then, when the timer goes off, take 10 minutes to go through your social media stuff, news updates, emails etc. Then do another 20-30 minutes writing against the clock. You’ll be amazed at how much you can do.
After a few weeks of writing like this you’l have developed a new habit, and slowly you should be able to break away from the apparent importance of social media. Speaking from my own experience, apart from engaging with your fans or other likeminded souls, you can survive without checking your social media accounts every few hours. Try using that time more effectively. Cut yourself away from the web and use the time for writing. If you’re serious about doing it, then you’ll do it. The extra minutes or hours spent working on your masterpiece will be far more productive than scrolling through yet another Facebook feed.
The message is simple. Disconnect and start writing. Get those words down. Finish that project. I believe in you.