I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Arresting Time Thieves


Heidi, here. When I got up today, I knew I needed to write my blog and work on my manuscript for the impending ACFW Conference. I made myself some toast, poured myself some chocolate milk, and sat down at my desk to get to work.
Twelve hours later, I’m finally writing.

What happened? Well, first of all I checked my email. I perused the Living Social and Groupon deals, checked on my ACFW Conference registration and hotel reservations, and spent a few minutes drooling over some delicious looking recipes. Then, one email announced that someone had tagged me on Facebook, so of course I had to check in to see who tagged me, and why.

The next thing I knew, it was lunchtime.

After lunch, I had the beginnings of a migraine headache, so I stretched out on my and took a quick nap. When I returned to my desk an hour later, I opened up my home page (Yahoo) and immediately saw a news story I could not resist. That led to several more links to intriguing articles I was compelled to read. Then I rechecked my email, and this time I found an announcement that someone had “repinned” one of my “pins” and my curiosity got the best of me.

Big Mistake.

Don’t get me wrong—I love Pinterest. Probably a little too much. But it is a black hole that tends to suck me into its light-less vacuum where time ceases to exist. Although I only meant to check out a couple of “quick pins,” suddenly it was time to pull myself together and get to our midweek evening church service. 

And that is how I ended up here, writing my blog at almost midnight.

Let's face it: Email, Facebook, and Pinterest are thieves. They steal an amazing amount of time, and we don’t even realize it. If I added up the time I spent at my computer today, then multiplied it by seven days a week, I think I might cry at the number of minutes I will never get back. 

But how do I fix it? Well, I f I had a shred of self-control, I would simply limit my time online; however, I am quite obviously lacking that shred. Unfortunately, I often feel like Dug, the dog on Up who is easily—“squirrel!!”—

Distracted. I cannot resist the gorgeous vacation destinations, juicy gossip, delicious looking desserts, and clever ideas that fill the Internet and steal my time. It is possible I may need to take more drastic measures.
A quick (yes, I promise it was quick) Google search turned up some great options for avoiding the distractions of the Internet. I think they all sound pretty cool, but in an effort to finish this blog post before sunrise, I skimmed the info BRIEFLY. 

The first is an article from Publisher’s Weekly subtitled, “How Authors Stay Offline” and includes the musings of 27 authors on avoiding the siren call of the Internet. 

A blogpost at Fiction Matters lists several options for removing all distractions that would leave me with a simple black screen on which to type. It actually kind of reminds me of my first computer, a 1984 Apple IIc. I wrote my very first "novel"—a mystery—on that beast!

Finally, if those don’t work and it turns out I need more serious consequences for straying from my writing goals, Write or Die offers maximum motivation. Their tagline is “Putting the PROD in productivity.” 

Or, I can just listen to my 17-year-old son, who just said, “Mom, it’s called ‘disabling your WiFi.’ I can totally do that for you.”

Your turn: Do you struggle to avoid the pitfalls of Internet distractions? Do you have an awesome way to keep on track? 

17 comments:

  1. So true, Heidi. The internet can be sooo useful but also a huge distraction. I love the "Dug" reference. It can happen so easily. Sometimes I have to 'go dark' and hope friends understand.
    Unless, of course, it's something really crucial like who will be the next Doctor. ;)

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    1. I do that too. People won't hear from me for weeks and it's just because I can't trust myself online like that. That and the pile of other obligations I have on this side of the screen. *sigh* perhaps one day I will find balance.

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    2. Anne! You obviously know me, because I've been a 'little' obsessed with the new Doctor!! Before he was announced, I was obsessed with the Internet chatter regarding possible candidates. Then, when Peter Capaldi's name was sort of leaked (before the actual announcement on Sunday) I was obsessed with finding out who he was and what I'd seen him in. That of course led me to Netflix to watch the Pompeii episode with #10 and Donna, and then to "Torchwood: Children of Earth," a FIVE part series in which Capaldi has a fairly major role. Once the BBC officially announced him, I was again obsessed with the Internet chatter regarding what everyone thought of the new guy and how he might play #12. Initially, I had some of this included in the above post, but deleted it because I didn't think most people would understand my problem (and because I was slightly embarrassed at just how much I love Doctor Who!!) But then you exposed me--in the very FIRST comment, lol--so now I will come clean. I've spent a ridiculous amount of time on The Doctor over the past 7-10 days. And now I will need to unplug if I want to have the slightest chance of finishing my manuscript before September 12th. I've never 'gone dark' (on purpose) but I think I will need to for the next few weeks. Thank you for forcing me to admit that I have a problem...admitting it is the first step in conquering it! :)

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  2. Heidi --- So TRUE! I'm on vacation which I thought would be great to get edits done for my wip, right? Wrong. We are in one of the loveliest places on earth -- Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Lake Superior is my view every day! My kids want Mom or want to go exploring because we ARE on vacation. So distractions abound. Same at home where work and every-day-life interrupt. I'm striving for peace-in-the-midst. So I do feel like "Dug" -- for me it's not the internet so much as life. :0).

    I will check out the websites you provided. Thanks for your honesty.

    Alena T.

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    1. Alena~ I always have the best of intentions! I struggle with distractions outside of the Internet as well...you know I'm avoiding writing when I'm outside cleaning in the garage!! I think the main problem with computer use is how FAST it eats up time. I sit down with every intention of spending a 'few minutes' checking email and Facebook, and the next thing I know, several hours have passed. I have no concept of time when I'm online. I think I knew that, I just hadn't really thought to try to reign it in, because having no concept of time means I don't realize how fast the days are passing until I go to a doctor's appointment, and when I go to book four weeks out, it is the week before I board a plane for Indianapolis. Suddenly I realize I have just about FIVE weeks before I will have to sit down, face-to-face with an editor and an agent and actually pitch my novel. That was a total eye opener!! Luckily for me, my husband and sons want me to finish as much as I do (maybe even a little more!!) so they are willing to do whatever to make it happen. At the very least, they will help me avoid the distractions out in the real world.

      Enjoy your vacation and time with your kiddos! It goes sooooooooo fast! That's the other problem with having no concept of time...one minute my children were 3 and 5, and the next thing I knew, we were celebrating my baby's 15th birthday!! Wow. =/

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  3. Heidi, you mean I finally get to meet you and give you a hug at ACFW?! Sooooo excited.

    Thanks for the links for dealing with distractions. Yes, I often have "Squirrel" syndrome too. Been working on that, but I'm not disciplined consistently. BUT, that is why I haven't gotten onto Pinterest yet. I know it will be a major time-suck for me, at least in the beginning.

    Happy writing and stay offline! ;o)

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    1. Jeanne!! YESSSSSSSSSSS!! That is EXACTLY what I mean! And that was one of the first things I wondered when I found out I was going to get to go: would Jeanne be there? So, now I'm excited to know that you'll be there so we can finally meet! (You might be able to tell I'm excited, since I used an entire day's ration of !!!!!s to express my excitement, lol!)

      You're daily Facebook posts of word counts are part of what have made me take a hard look at how much time I'm wasting online. As I'm scrolling down Facebook, I come to your post, and think to myself, "She wrote 2500 words today; that's how many words I could've written had I stayed off Facebook and Pinterest today." So, thank you for your posts...they are inspiring me to do the same thing. I'm going dark as soon as I get caught up on the replies to my blog post, except I've decided that at the the end of the day, if I've reached my goal word count, then I get to spend some time online. I'm making it a reward, for AFTER I've written.

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    2. Awww, thanks for the encouragement, Heidi. :) Good for you going dark and using online as a reward. :) I can't wait to read you in book form. It's going to be great!

      And I have a big hug with your name on it just waiting. :)

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  4. Oh my goodness is this me all over!
    And then if that is not enough, I have living people outside of the internet who think just because I work from home, I can come on a whim to help them with their whims. Oh wait, now I'm ranting. Not good.

    Anyway, I see squirrels every where I go so I know what you mean. Unfortunately, I use the internet for more than fun. Research for quick info and Etymology.com is my usual forays online. I guess nothing beats good old discipline. Anyone have any they can loan me?

    Love the post, Heidi.

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    1. Ginger~ I could rant the same thing! It is frustrating because people think that if you "work from home" you don't REALLY work.

      Unfortunately for me, every time I try to make excuses for why I haven't written, I remember my friends (e.g. MTagg) who get up before dawn to make sure they write before anything else. That's a perfect example of good old discipline...something I am severely lacking. If you find someone who is loaning it out, let me know because I NEED it!! In the meantime, I thought about doing an Internet search of ways to build self-control, but then realized that's how I get myself into trouble in the first place. "Let's Google it" turns into a four hour search that ends up not really helping me. Sigh, I guess since self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, I already have it...I just need help in exercising it!!

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  5. I like the disabling the Wi-Fi one the best. Great post, Heidi. I'll have to check out your links. But not today. Today I have to write. :-)

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    1. Pat~ my boys are helping me write the YA novel I'm planning to pitch at ACFW. They have a lot invested in it, and are almost more excited about it getting finished than I am. It's great because they are my brainstorming team, and since my target audience is their age, they are good sounding boards. They have no problem telling me if something is lame. Because they are invested, they are more than willing to be Writing Nazis. In fact, the first thing this morning he asked me if I wanted him to disable my Wi-Fi. I needed to come here and get some replies written, but I will definitely be taking him up on it tomorrow! That way, if I need to research something quickly, I'll have to use another computer, which will mean asking permission. And will probably involve supervision, lol!

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  6. Lately I'm getting worse at caving to these instead of better, and I haven't even yielded to Pinterest yet. But I did just get my town home staged for sale, still have wet paint on me and paint drying on the walls (& learned I don't paint well).
    So excited for you to go to ACFW. Praying it's an outstanding time for you, no migraines, everything green lights and A-OK!

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    1. Dee~ I definitely think there are seasons to my distraction. Sometimes I can be so focused and disciplined. I'm amazed at what I can get done. Other times, not so much. But there are definitely times when there are things that trump writing (like getting a house staged for sale or finishing papers for University classes) so you don't really have a choice and you can't beat yourself up for it. What I need to do is get back to making lists so I can prioritize what needs to get done. I used to be a rabid list maker (before the head injury) and I got so much accomplished that way. Maybe if I can get back to it, or at least make myself a schedule to go by, I could be more predictable.

      I'm so excited for ACFW. I haven't been since 2009 in Denver. Will you be there?

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  7. Heidi,

    Thanks for the great tips! I wrote a long reply but lost it. :-(

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    1. Oh Roxanne, I HATE it when that happens!! There's no sense wasting the time in rewriting it to post...that would sort of defeat the purpose/message of the blog topic, lol! That energy would be better spent on your current WIP. I'm sure it was amazing, and probably contained a pep talk, as you have always been my biggest cheerleader! Will you be at ACFW? I'd love to see you!

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  8. Distractions on the internet are indeed endless, and yet a "platform" is also important. God has to direct us, as always. Good pondering points, Heidi!

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