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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Going Unplugged

I recently spent an entire day (other than about an hour) unplugged--from the internet. This was a drastic step for me. I like to have access to Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com, and to be able to do some quick internet research on something I'm writing if needed. Oh yeah, and I also like to incessantly check my email, jump over to Facebook and waste time there, drop in to Twitter to post something really quick and then end up spending an hour in a conversation with someone, and explore blogs on writing and publishing and the world of agents.

I could literally waste an entire day, just by playing around on the internet. I've done it plenty of times. And then I'll sit and wonder what could have been if only I'd taken that hour I was playing on Facebook, and used it on my WIP instead.

Well, I did it. I allowed myself an hour--one hour, to check my email, read blogs, check Facebook, and all those other things that I tend to do. And then I pulled the plug. I literally unplugged the internet.

You know what happened? I got a ton of studying done (finals are next week at my university), and I wrote over 6,000 words on my WIP. Yes, that's right. More than SIX THOUSAND words. I've never written that much in a day before. Not even days where I've devoted the entire day to writing, plugging away at my keyboard--but then getting distracted by that spot of research, or a lot of emails in my inbox, or . . . you get the drift. The next day, I managed 4,000 words. Not too shabby.

I noticed something else, too, while I was doing this experiment. I spent more time reading that I normally would. And I still spent my usual amount of time watching the television, so that wasn't affected.

So I've decided to do this pretty much every day, from now through the end of finals, at least. I've got a lot I need to get done, and I really want to finish this draft of my WIP. Can I do it in a week? Probably not. We'll see. But I know that I've got a much better chance of doing it if I'm not online.

I'm going unplugged.

Hmm. I wonder what could happen if I cut the TV out, too?

What about you? What are your big time wasters in life (online or otherwise)? How do you combat them?


  1. Great topic, Catherine!

    I waste more time than I'd like to admit on Facebook and in my email. Sometimes, I'll just keep hitting refresh on my email until a new message comes through. LOL! Compulsive much???

    My main problem is that oftentimes I'm afraid to jump into my WIP, fearing the baby will end up pulling me away as soon as I get in the groove. So I end up doing a lot of non-committal type stuff.

    I have gotten better, though. Now that we've established a nice, long morning nap routine, I try to unplug during that time and get my word count out of the way. Then I don't have to worry about it the rest of the day.

    It doesn't always work out (and I'm commenting on your blog during that morning nap time!! LOL!) But I've written more in the past couple weeks than I've written in the last 6 months probably.

    Okay, unplugging again!

    Oh, and I love TV! I have it on most of the day, but it serves as background until prime time when all the new shows are on :)

  2. I, too, recently discovered the productivity that results from going unplugged. Holy cow, I could have written three manuscripts by now instead of just one! For an entire month, I completely abandoned facebook, and discovered that I really didn't miss knowing what flavor ice cream someone was choosing, or whose 3 yr old used the potty like a big girl. Imagine that ;).
    These days, I try to remember to turn off my wireless internet connection, and try to keep my email checking to around 3 times per day. Thankfully I only watch about an hour of TV a day, so the internet is really my only vice. You know what? I think I will unplug and get to work now.
    Great topic! Thanks for the reminder of what we can get done if we set aside the distractions!

  3. Excellent topic! Now if you could just convince my author that the world will not end if she is not continually attached to her inbox... I would be so grateful.

    Actually, my author has gotten much better about the email obsession. It's been a good 6 months since she's logged on to facebook--she's too chicken to twitter--and the TV is tuned to cartoons most evenings which she has no problem tuning out.

    However, the new distractions that by far outweigh any of the electronic ones have to do with the complaints from the almost 9 year old daughter about not having anyone to play with. Sigh. All I can say is thank goodness for McDonald's Indoor playlands. I can get a lot of good thinking and writing done there--either plugged or unplugged.


  4. I need to do the same thing. I've been working on my WIP for a year and a half and I'm so close to the end. WHY don't I finish it?!

    I get distracted too! I am going to take my laptop out to the back patio, disconnect my internet and write!!!

    Great blog!!

  5. I have to disconnect to get writing done or else I'm like you, Catherine. I check my email every two seconds. On that note, I still have 500 words I need to get finished for the day, so I'm unplugging now. :)

  6. Jerrica, I think you have a great strategy for utilizing nap time. My brother, a stay-at-home-dad, always used my nephew's nap time for a nap.

    Erin, Facebook has been one of the things that I've almost completely been avoiding during my unplugged experiment. I actually haven't missed it. Amazing.

    Elijana, I have found there is a lot of freedom in only checking my inbox once a day. I might decide to open it twice a day, but I think I'm going to leave the rest of the internet alone other than once a day. It has been working very well for me.

    Mistiafaery, great idea! I'd love to take my laptop outside right now, but it is about to rain so I probably shouldn't. But when the weather is nice, that would be a fabulous way of going unplugged.

    Samantha, go get those words written! I haven't written anything today, due to other reasons, and I really want to try to get some written tonight.

  7. Great blog, Catherine. I SO need to do the same thing. The worst of it? For internet here I have to use an internet stick, which means I actually am unplugged most of the time, and yet still find myself wasting time with email, etc. I applaud your efforts - and accomplishments woohoo! - and have to try and do the same myself.