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Author: Subject: [07/24/12] Pep Talk #3: Ooh, Shiny!
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[*] posted on 7-24-2012 at 07:59 PM
[07/24/12] Pep Talk #3: Ooh, Shiny!

With a world so in tune with technology and so connected to everyone else, sometimes it feels like it's absolutely impossible to find a minute for yourself. The phone is always ringing, IMs are always pouring in, and if you have twitter setup on your phone? May someone with stronger conviction than I have help you stay away from everyone else in the world when you're doing a WriMo... Because you're definitely going to need it.

Truth be told, there's always going to be something else going on that you'd rather be doing than what you actually need to get done. It goes for everything: chores, homework, going to work, getting out of bed, doing something other than watch old TV programs on Netflix... On the other side of the coin, there's always going to be something way more important that needs doing. This month, that something is your JulNoWriMo novel. With that in mind, today we're going to talk about ways to eliminate (or at least temporarily avoid) all of the distractions life may throw at you to take time away from your novel.

1. Writing Programs
There are certain programs that will enter into full screen mode that are made specifically for writers who might be having a bit of trouble concentrating. What this does for you is block off everything on your screen except for the document you're writing in. Without being able to see any of the other windows, you have nothing to click away to when you're supposed to be focusing. Most of these programs will allow you to exit full screen mode with a button (typically esc) and then you're back to normal computer use. It's up to you to have the willpower not to hit the button until you've accomplished what you want to get done with. Two popular programs for this are Q10 (http://www.baara.com/q10/) and FocusWriter (http://gottcode.org/focuswriter/), both of which are freeware that a lot of WriMos refuse to write without.

Another is the ever-famous Write-or-Die (http://writeordie.com). This program has multiple options for what you can do with it and how to help motivate yourself. WoD allows the writer to customize what they're working towards, be it word count or a time limit and will "punish" you when you have stopped typing for too long. Even the punishments are customizable to fit your personal preference. Depending on your settings, the site will prompt you with a noninvasive popup, play a ridiculously annoying sound, or start deleting your words if you don't start typing again. There are WriMos that swear by WoD, so that could be an option for staying away from distractions.

One additional thing about WoD is that there are two versions: the free, internet-necessary one and the small-cost desktop version. Convenient for whichever way you write: online, or off.

2. Turn off the Internet
This one is actually something that hinders my productivity, so take it with a grain of salt. While you're on your computer, most of the distractions you're going to face are going to be websites: twitter, facebook, gaming sites, blogs... The list goes on and on. Sure, you can close your browser and switch off your WiFi / unplug the ethernet cable, but it's not hard to reverse any of those when you get tired of writing, "just to check your email." With applications like Self-Control for Mac (http://visitsteve.com/made/selfcontrol/) and Freedom for PCs (http://macfreedom.com/) you can tell your browser itself to act offline, no matter how many times you close or restart it. These things can be major helps... Until you hit a roadblock and need to do actual novel research. Since that happens to me with relative consistency, I usually will opt for just the WiFi switch going into the off position, that way I'm the one in control of when it comes back on again.

3. Budget your Time
There are lots of programs that can help you do similar things in this section, so they'll be linked at the bottom instead of in paragraph, but the basic idea is the same for all of them: figure out where your time is most spent and readjust that. TrackTime / RescueTime will help you figure out where exactly you're spending time, while other applications and browser extensions will only allow you to be on certain sites for an amount of time per day that you have set. Basically, just like a fiscal budget, you have to figure out where you are right now and where you'd like to be. Then, cut out the nonessentials from where you are to add time to writing and get where you want to be. Simple in theory, not so much in practice.

TrackTime: http://nimbleworks.co.uk/blog/a-new-website-for-tracktime
RescueTime: https://www.rescuetime.com/
StayFocused: https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/laankejkbhbdhmip...
LeechBlock: http://www.proginosko.com/leechblock.html

There's a ton more that you can do to help avoid distractions, like removing yourself from the distracting elements, locking yourself in a closet, etc., but I'm pretty sure this list is a good place to start. Good luck on getting that novel written!

-- erin


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[Edited on 7-29-2012 by JulNoWriMo]

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