I’ve struggled with writing the last few years. I describe it as writer’s block to end all writer’s block. The death of imagination caused by an internal editor run amuck. Name it what you will, it absolutely sucks.
Truth is, one of the problems is with the distractions of the internet. I write on my laptop. The one that is perpetually connected to the internet. And so, I spend my time struggling with writing allowing myself to be distracted by all of the glory the internet has to offer. Check Twitter. Check Facebook. Read blogs. Check my email. Check CNN. Check the sports sites. Do it all over again. Rinse and repeat. And another day and another week goes by without me writing anything.
It is far too easy to be distracted by the brainless fluff than to try to write a story.
A couple of years ago I thought somebody should develop a program, or in today’s parlance an app, that allows you to cut the internet off while you are trying to focus on something that actually matters, that is actually more important. It would allow creative minds to create.
Alas, I didn’t follow through on that.
Turns out, though, that somebody did.
A few days ago, Shannon Thompson, a young writer/blogger who I’ve followed for years now, wrote this post about feeling like she had failed at blogging. I commented that I felt much the same way about my writing experience these last few years. In our back and forth, Shannon told me about an app she uses that helps her focus when she needs to. The app essentially shuts down the internet for you while you get your work, your creation, your whatever, done.
Although it’s described as an app and seems focused on smartphones, that does nothing for me since I don’t write on my phone. I checked the website out. It has an extension for Google Chrome, the web browser I use. I added the extension yesterday and just gave it a test run.
I set the timer on it for 45 minutes, I input all of the websites that distract me so I wouldn’t be able to go to them while I wrote. Forty-five minutes later, the app grew a tree and I wrote almost 600 words on my story. The program has a blacklist and a whitelist, the former for all of the sites you don’t want access to, the latter for sites you still want access to. I made sure I had access to Google because I use that for on-the-fly research while I write. And I needed it a couple of times during those 45 minutes.
So, first try? A resounding success. 600 words in 45 minutes. We’ll see what happens in the future. And, yes, I realize that my laptop has other browsers on it that aren’t covered by this. I’m trying not to thing about that.
It is a shame though that I’ve lost the ability to control my habits to get some writing done and need to depend on the very thing — the internet — that has so distracted me.