Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: Unplug your Internet!

February 22nd, 2010 by

I found yet another great series of posts by writers about the craft of writing – I’ll be featuring that in mid-March. One observation from writer and essayist Jonathan Franzen struck me to the quick:

It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.

Oh, yes. The evil temptress known as the Web! Sure, you should buckle down and get started on that scene. You know, the one you’ve been struggling with now for a couple of days. You know the only solution is likely just slogging your way through it time after time until you get it right. So here you go, opening the file. And there it is, the vexing scene itself. And here are your hands on the keyboard, ready to go, and then…








Open Internet browser.

And suddenly, it’s two-and-a-half hours later, where you find yourself bidding on eBay for a glow-in-the-dark Michael Jackson prayer shawl or some such nonsense that you have absolutely no need for… other than to distract you from your writing.

So here’s the trick: Stay offline. I mean literally unplug your DSL line. If you’ve got wireless, disable it. Don’t tell me you don’t know how to do that. I’m the world’s dumbest computer person and even I know how to disable my wireless.

And then just write.

Facebook will wait for you. The DailyKos will wait for you. Twitter won’t wait for you, but writing requires some sacrifice… even refraining from tweets.

What won’t wait is the solution to that damn scene!

So when you sit down to write, admit that while you may be a grown-up, at least in terms of your age, you really need to treat yourself like a child – and just unplug your Internet.

This has been another installment of “Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work.”

7 thoughts on “Dumb Little Writing Tricks That Work: Unplug your Internet!

  1. Megan Cline says:

    This is so true! I've been fasting Facebook for Lent and so far I have had so much time to write. As much as I love keeping up with my friends, being able to fill the time with my creative work (even if it is for school) has been wonderful. I didn't think about disabling my wireless while I write, but that's something I plan to try.

  2. Tom Khazoyan says:


    If I really want to get creative work done, I have to drive my VW camper up into the mountains, or off to a park somewhere, and set up shop without a connection to the outside world.

    Perhaps it's not really a character flaw after all?!

  3. Olov says:

    A week in a remote castle on Sicily. Had to climb the roof to get one bar of GSM connection. Don't think they ever heard of the Internet there. I wrote like crazy!

    On any flight. When the seatbelt sign comes on for landing and you have to put your laptop away .. I'm there, always pushing it, again writing like crazy.

    So yeah, never thought of it that way.. but I guess it's true, the internet connection is your enemy.

  4. Matisse says:

    Except for when you need to do research online that affects the scene. Which tends to happen a lot.

  5. The Word Demon says:

    Brilliant and so true.

  6. James says:

    Another dumb little trick is to get acquainted with "Full Screen" mode. Most pieces of software have them. Just removing other icons and menus from view means you're far less distracted by them.

  7. Jim Lounsbury says:

    Yeah, there's this great little program called Freedom (for Mac) that you can use to turn OFF that pesky internet for a few hours of power. Check it out… http://macfreedom.com/

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