I’m doing it! My creative writing is now done on my old laptop. Why? Two year back, I reconfigured its hard drive and loaded OS software on a laptop so heavy you could use it as a door-stopper. Yet I never quite got the modem going. This flaw is now my writing secret:
I’m writing unplugged.
No more distractions! If I really must look up a piece of research trivia, I have to do it on my phone. Or later – and few things are as useful as those balloon notes you can leave in the text:
“Research the mass of a Stinger rocket.”
“Verify the map of Viennesse metro system.”
If I write on my trusty MacBook, the internet is just two clicks away. I go and look up the trivia I need – most of the time it takes under three minutes – but then, since I’m already online, why not check who’s on Facebook?
Most of my Facebook friends are writers. They are doing the same thing I’m doing. Many a time, there are so many of us online, it’s a wonder anything gets published at all! Half an hour goes by so fast, I don’t even realize I could have written another 500 words. Then I click on an article. It looks interesting – it might even be relevant to my research topic.
But researching is not writing. Only writing is writing.
Time goes by as I read HuffPost and NYT and take several personality quizzes. Another writer is a lion, but my totem animal is an owl. Bummer. If I were a car, I’d be a classic Shelby, slightly rusted. Now that advertisers conned me out of few more bits of metadata that pertains to my personal preferences, I look at the clock. An hour an a half? Really? And it’s almost lunch!
Might as well check LiveJournal and DeviantArt.
And so it goes.
Few things are as destructive to my personal work ethic as easy internet access. I tried using productivity software that blocks certain sites during what I consider “writing hours.” It worked until I learned to hack around it.
Dean Wesley Smith has a writing computer, one with no internet access at all. Several writers I’ve met tried it. They swear by it. They also publish more books than I do.
It sounds boring, sure, but that’s the whole idea. You’re supposed to sit there, free of stimulus, until your characters talk to you and you start writing. If you need to research something, make a note of it in the text. Knowing the average lifespan of a poisonous tree frog won’t move your story forward. Writing will.
Welcome, my old Samsung laptop, you big black dinosaur! Welcome back to my life. I’ll have to back up on a flash drive instead of using DropBox, and I’ll have to reformat my files from OS to .docx, but that’s a small price to pay for the gift of stillness. A place where my mind can pause, so that I can see the action and hear the characters murmur their most secret plans.
Good-bye for now. I have to go visit with my cast of trouble-makers! Wait a few months. Then you can read all about it.