The title of this post could mean many things. For instance, it could be a review of Jonathan Franzen’s novel; it could be my thoughts of what freedom is to me politically and philosophically, or it could mean that I simply have the day off from work and spousal responsibilities. Except it doesn’t mean any of that at all.
In the many blogs that I get through the email and RSS transom, one them is Victoria Strauss’s Writer Beware. This blog is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America along with the Mystery Writers of America and provide posts that, “shines a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. We also provide industry news, writing advice, and a special focus on the weird and wacky things that happen at the fringes of the publishing world.”
Today on Writer Beware, the post had to do with procrastination. If you’ve read my posts, you know that I am the Empress of procrastination and that I’m always looking for ways to cure my tendencies to get to work and not get distracted by the tumbleweeds of dog hair, the dirty dishes in the sink, email, Facebook, and whatever else that distracts me. So when I read Victoria’s post I was happy to learn that I’m not the only person who sometimes has the attention span of a Labrador retriever (sorry, Lola).
Strauss laments that she has tried to avoid the Internet with the sheer force of will power, but that usually fails. Other strategies to avoid the seductive call of the Web has been emails and nonfiction writing on her desktop and writing fiction on her laptop and so forth. Yet these strategies don’t always work because they can be circumvented. She notes that she’s not alone and mentioned she discovered a blog post by ShelfTalker’s Elizabeth Bluemle who interviewed other writers about their techniques to not fall into the pit of procrastination. Most of the ones mentioned I’ve attempted and failed like: responding to email at a certain time of the day; don’t go online until I finish that day’s word goal; move to another part of the house (I’m actually writing this on the front porch.) Turn-off the WiFi, etc.
Now let me back up and talk about will-power. Essentially, I have none. There are times I have spurts where I push myself to avoid checking email, Facebook, and researching but those are short-lived. The only one program I avoid is Twitter because I find it annoying. Recently I’ve turned off the email application because I can’t stand hearing the alert beep that a new email has arrived or looking down at the docking station to see the red circle with the bold white numbers, showing that I have fifteen new messages that need to be read and possibly answered (yes, I can turn off the sound and hide the docking station, but it’s convenient to have both turned on, although I am experimenting with the hide and show). So far, I have fared pretty well in not obsessively checking email while I work. A recent Facebook hiatus was not as successful. I still spend too much time around the virtual water cooler And as for researching…well, let’s just say my intentions are pure, but I somehow get distracted and run searches on a certain handsome Magyar.
The one tool that caught Victoria’s attention (and hence the title of this entry) was a program called Freedom, which blocks Internet access. What’s the big deal when you can turn off your WiFi? Well, as easy as it is to turn it off, it’s just as easy to turn it back on. With Freedom, however, once it’s off it stays off until you reboot. Now if I were still using the HP laptop, the incentive of not having to reboot would be great since it was a nightmare to get everything loaded and discover that half my morning was gone. On the Mac Pro booting up takes less than thirty seconds so it’s not a great sacrifice. But I like the idea of not having that instant access, and that I have to restart to read email and research. Software geek that I am, I’m giving Freedom a whirl.
And if you’re wondering whether I’m writing this on WordPress while I’m online, I’m not. In fact, moving forward all written material will be drafted on Scrivener and then transferred over to WordPress. That’s after I reboot, of course.