Writing 101- Unplugging

In 1947 something beautiful happened. The very first computer was created. Oh sure, it was as large as a two bedroom apartment and that horse who does math could calculate faster than it could…but it forever changed our world. Especialy if, you know, you write.

It took a little while for us to get word processors and programs but god where they great! Suddenly, with just a little practice, we could get the worlds down almost as fast as we could think them. Then the internet came along (and google) and suddenly we could research our books without ever leaving our house.

Also, I’m old enough to remember having to research without search engines. Oh god I do not miss that. Or dial-up. I will offer up my first born to keep from having to go back to dial-up.

Now that I’ve gotten that bit of melodrama out of my system I’m going to get to my point. The computer/internet combo is the single most helpful tool at a writers disposal. It is also the most distracting. You know what I’m talking about. It’s so easy to just double-click the internet browser and bring up your social media site of choice. Or check out what movies are coming out in the weekend. Take a moment to the check the news 0r giggle over that cat video that’s gone viral.

It only takes a minute or two but those minutes add up. Next thing you know it’s four hours later and you haven’t written a dang thing, have you? Oh sure, you jotted down some notes, maybe even a paragraph. But is it anything in comparison to the quantity, nor even the quality, of what you could have done in that same amount of time had you not been checking on the wedding photos of that dude you sat next to in your junior year of high school? Probably not.

So, what do you do? You need the internet for your work, don’t you? You need to be able to look up that random bit of information for that scene you are writing.

Actually, no, you probably don’t. Let me lay down a little honesty, darlings. You don’t need to know absolutely everything right this moment in order to create a great story line.

Need a name for a character? Put a placeholder down instead of popping unto babynames.com. Need to know the average time that a body deteriorates at? Make a note of it and move on. You can italicize it, bold it, or change the font color so you remember to come back later and check. But you don’t need that information RIGHT now.

You’d be surprised how much you will accomplish if you break the habit of opening up your browser every time you have a question. Your memory will get better. Your organization will get better. Your writing will reach brand new heights because you did not mess with the flow of your scene.

Now, here’s the other thing. It’s going to hurt some of you a lot.

Turn the volume of your phone down. Hell, turn it off. No, don’t set it to vibrate. Literally turn it all the way down and flip it over so you can’t see the face. If you have the kind of phone that flashes at you when you get a call or a message…cover the thing up. Leave it in another room.

The world is not going to die if you don’t answer. If there are people in your life who get anxious or frustrated if you don’t automatically pick up or text back when they send you a message just let them know that you are going to be writing for the next couple hours and that you’ll respond when you take a break.

If they aren’t okay with that I would suggest that you review your relationship because that throws up a few red flags.

By doing these few things for just a few hours every day that you can write you will notice a distinct and powerful change (for the better) in your writing. What this all finally comes down to is that the computer is your friend. The internet is your best tool. Do not, however, let these two things rule (and ruin) your creativity. You deserve to be the best writer than you can be.


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