I just signed up for Pinterest and it’s like crack—totally addictive (not that I would know if crack is addictive…oh, forget it). I’ve started storyboards and gone through all of my saved image files, just PINNING ALL THE THINGS. Meanwhile (oh my, the time is just flying!), I’ve blown off hours of potential writing time.
I tend to do social media on the go—during breaks at work, while I’m drinking coffee in the morning, when I’m standing in line at the grocery store, etc. Sometimes (most times) I’m burned out by the end of the day and I need something mindless to do. But when I think back and realize how much time I spent doing “mindless things”, I feel guilty and realize I could’ve wrote X amount of words in that time. I do the same thing with TV shows and movies (particularly if they’re bad)—I usually ask myself, “Did I just waste my life on that crap? I could’ve been making up my own damn story!”
Sure, brains need breaks every once in a while, but there’s a line you cross before you’re lost forever in the black hole of the internet. For example, I’ve had my WIP open for an hour now and I’ve written a grand total of ten words. Why? ‘Cause I’m letting myself get distracted by all the shiny social things…and I have a headache…and I’m scared of this next scene…and… *whine* (I could certainly use some wine right now).
Of course, social media is part of a writer’s armament in order to reach readers. A website is a must and probably Facebook and Twitter too. How else are you going to get your book out into the wild world? With an ever-rising plethora of novels inside the monster that is Amazon, we need to try to get our books seen and our voices heard whether your self-pubbed or trad-pubbed.
But, I admit, social media is great fuel for my procrastination machine, and I consciously need to shut it down and throw away the key. Here are a few ways I do it.
Shut off your Wi-Fi.
Yep, you heard me—take that baby down. Even better, turn off your router, especially if it’s in another room. Every time you try to open Facebook, your computer will give you a big fat “NO” and tell you to get your ass back to work.
Use a timer.
Okay, so you refuse to shut down your Wi-Fi—fine. Grab a timer and set it to write for however many minutes/hours you want. Once it goes off (and it should go off loudly) then yay, you’re free to putz. Set it again for your putzing time (for equivalent or less than your writing time), and once it goes off, get your butt back in the chair and your fingers on the keys.
Write or Die.
I’ve never used this program, but I heard it works quite well. Similar to my timer method, it forces you to write in spurts of time and allows you to have intermittent breaks.
Close the door and shut off your phone.
Announce to your family/spouse/kids/whatever that you’re writing for however much time and you shouldn’t be disturbed. Lock the door and throw in some earplugs if you must. Obviously, if there’s an emergency, address it, but only if it means certain death (and I mean certain). Guard that writing time with your life and be a stickler about it—if you don’t, you’ll never be taken seriously and you’ll never get anything done.
Also, TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. Not only does it have all of those fabulous social media distractors, but it also allows people to call you (does that happen anymore?). Put it on silent and put it away.
And that’s all my achy head can think of right now. Do you have any tips to fight off distractions? I’d love to hear them!