NaNoWriMo Day 17: Distractions

Internet surfing is by far my biggest distraction when I write. Whenever I get stuck, it’s really easy to pop open the ol’ web browser, go to Facebook or fark.com, and fart around for a little while until inspiration comes, or until I finally just flip back to the ol’ novel and try again. Unfortunately, inspiration rarely comes while I’m surfing the web, and once I’ve gotten in a habit of letting myself get distracted, it’s hard to stop. At times I feel like I have attention-deficit disorder. Darn you, Internet and TV for making me so oooh, what’s that, it’s shiny!

What?

Oh yeah, I was writing a blog post. Moving on…

I’ve come up with a few tricks for avoiding distraction. The first is pretty basic: switch off the wireless Internet on my laptop. Unfortunately, the switch is really obvious and easy to flip, so that often doesn’t last. I could unplug the cable modem, but that feels a little over-the-top, so I’ve avoided it. Besides, I’d probably just end up plugging it back in.

Then, on Sunday this weekend, I found myself at 34,000 words with a goal to get to 40,000 by the end of the weekend. At the pace I had been setting, that 6,000 words could easily take me 10-12 hours, and I knew I didn’t have that much time. The only way I would make it would be to somehow avoid distraction for an entire 6,000 words (about 20 pages of double-spaced manuscript).

I found a trick that worked for me: when I hit a rough spot in my writing, or somewhere where I have to think about what comes next, which is usually where I get distracted, I clasp my hands together tightly and rest them on my elbows. It looks sort of like praying, but actually it’s me not letting myself touch the computer until I know what I’m writing next. Usually it only takes me thirty seconds, a couple minutes at most, then I’m on my way again. By writing like this, I was able to hit 6,000 words with only about 5 hours of dedicated writing time on Sunday. Earlier this evening I wrote 2,500 words in about 2 and a half hours. That’s a much better pace…. 1000 words in an hour instead of the 500 I was averaging. Now I just have to see if I can keep it up.

The last few thousand words have been pretty good, too (and believe me, I’m not just saying that– there’s stuff I’ve written this month that’s been total crap and will almost certainly get scrapped and rewritten in December). Then again, maybe I’ve just reached a part of the novel that interests me more. Next time I get to write a scene with my main character kicking ass, so I’m looking forward to that.

If I keep up my current pace, I should hit the magic 50K on the evening of Thursday the 19th. The story will be far from done by then, so I’ll keep writing… time will tell if I actually finish it by the end of the month.