Friday, November 14, 2014

The Secret to Being a Productive Writer




It rained the other day in Israel. This is an event in itself, because the country goes through a very long, hot, dry summer. When the first rains of the new wintery season arrive, they have a special name - they are called the "Yoreh", as this heavy precipitation literally shoots down from the sky. The rainfall is welcomed by farmers and umbrella salesmen, but it occasionally causes flash floods, not only in Israel's southern desert, but also in the streets and neighborhoods of Tel Aviv.

After one of the season's first storms, my house lost its Internet connection. I stayed home from work the next day awaiting the technician who would come to check out the problem. Sitting at my computer with no online news, Facebook, Twitter, or email to distract me, I ended up accomplishing quite a bit. I made great strides in the editing of my novel, wrote a book review, and finalized a travel article.

In short, not having an Internet connection made me, at least for that morning, a very productive writer! Yet, my creative muse quickly ran out. I began to get itchy, worrying about what was happening in the world. What was the latest news? Were there important email messages awaiting my attention? Did someone tweet to me? From being a very productive writer in the morning, I became a very unproductive writer in the afternoon. Give me back my Internet!

The technician arrived and said that the problem was with my modem router. He said the telephone line was just fine. After he departed, I drove into the city and purchased a new router. Later in the day, I followed the instructions and connected it, but still no connection to the outside world. I called up my Internet service provider. Together we walked through a number of steps, defining the router's properties and making sure the computer was responding correctly. After we finished everything, I told her that I still wasn't accessing the Internet. She said, "Oh, no!" Not exactly a good sign.

The next day I again stayed home from work, awaiting yet another technician. Like the previous morning, the uninterrupted hours were highly productive. More chapters edited, more articles written. And then, my craving for Internet access began building. When would I regain my connectivity? When would the technician arrive? I demand my Internet connection! I simply cannot write without it!


The technician finally showed up at my house, and unlike the one who visited the day before, he determined that the problem was definitely physical; something was seriously wrong with the telephone line leading to my house.

We went outside and untangled the line from weeds and branches that had lowered it until it could almost be touched from the ground. And then the technician went onto my roof. He found that the line had been worn out by the elements. The recent rain, and the previous year's tarring of the roof, and the unexpected snowfall last December - everything had eaten away at the line. My Internet connection had literally been washed out.

A section of cable was replaced, and Internet access was restored. Happiness returned to my home.

The bottom line (excuse my pun when I say that), for me anyways, is that a writer cannot be distracted when writing or editing. But occasionally, those very same distractions are needed in order to clear one's head and enable future creativity.

You can't be a productive writer if you're spending your time on the Internet, but on the other hand, you need some online time in order to be a productive writer.

Does that make sense? What do you think?


21 comments:

  1. just think what would happen if everyone who spent time on the internet became productive writers!

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  2. Yep. Right now I should be writing, but instead, I'm reading your blog! But I need that time to stay connected and receive encouragement from someone across the ocean. I know when I'm lingering too long on Facebook that it's time to impose some discipline.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog! But now, you can go back to writing. :)

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    2. Me, too. So, does this mean we have huge doses of Attention Deficit Disorder. Increases the respect we have for those writers who wrote novels :: gasp:: using typewriters, libraries and imagination. Interesting post. Thanks.

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  3. I recently figured out that the key is to write first, like you did, and only go on-line when I'm done creating for the day, or if I really need a break. Like life and writing in general, we need to find a good balance. Enjoyed the post.

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  4. Ellis, I feel your pain! We just switched service providers, and the tech found frayed wires to my home, and incorrect connectors, etc, and other gizmos. Now, my speeds are ridiculously faster, and the resolution is much better. If I could, I'd let you add yourself on to my account for free! I do that for friends.
    Now, my only problem is in capturing and seducing the Daily Muse, and squeezing productivity out of the day - I think I have TOO MUCH TIME TO WRITE! Interesting dilemma, one which I will Blog about - see? an idea! Glad you are up and running again. I agree with Tammy's comment to separate writing and Internet time. Be well, and I really enjoy your Blog!
    Steve S., New Hyde Park, NY 11040

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    1. Thanks Steve! Good luck with your blogging!

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  5. moderation in all, this was a great story all thanks to the termination of internet connection. though It would have been good if wild life maybe a squirrel had been conjured up just for spice.

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  6. Agree completely. I tend to write stream of thought consciousness style but I also tend to pepper that heavily with research and visits to thesaurus.com for effective wordsmithing. I really need my internet to be completely productive.

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    1. Yes! I like how you said that about "peppering" your writing stream!

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  7. I cannot write (or engage in any cerebral activity for that matter) without destructions. When I was a student and had to prepare for my exams I would run 24-hr news day and night. I need some noise in the background. Without it I cannot concentrate. I write mostly in cafes, sitting there for hours. This is a violent extraverted streak I have as a mostly introverted person.

    The same goes for the internet. If I have no access to the outside world, I become anxious and cannot concentrate. It's the difference between having and not having. If you have food and you know you can eat it any time, you can go on for hours not thinking about it. But when you have nothing to eat, you will never stop thinking about food.

    I check internet frequently while writing, and even though it does eat away from my writing, the alternative would be not to write at all.

    Xena.

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  8. I am constantly distracted by email and social media, equally distracted by their absence when I travel somewhere with no access.

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  9. I have started to notice that there are people who are living lives & there are people surfing the net...I am also noticing that those two groups don't meet...As I wean myself off the computer, I wonder what a real life might entail-I have been plugged in for so long...

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  10. Good blog, Ellis. I have a wireless point-to-point broadband connection that fails when the wind blows or when crows sit on my antenna!

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  11. In my case, internet time has eroded my reading time. It is good to know that internet provider woes are global.

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  12. Wish I could say I spent the "seventh day" off my computer, but am not as disciplined as some I know. A weekly media fast just might catch on though! I hear it's a boost to productivity too.

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  13. When I am writing I am often researching for words, and places and so flick back and forth, learning as I write. But I don't stick to plot plans as others do, I write as I daydream it, and let the plot form itself. Many say they connect to the stories better as if they are there. Well, who knows, that's how I see it when I'm writing. Also Google Earth and street view allows me to walk the streets and countryside of the places in my books.

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  14. I agree. I think as a writer anything can be used as a writing prompt. And sifting through the highway of info that is the internet, one can find a spark waiting to set your writing heart aflame. It might not be the exact thing you came across, but it may spark an avenue of creativity or thinking that you might not have had otherwise. Just wish I was writing for payment and not just love. ;-) Perhaps one day!

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  15. Internet became a wonderful writing research tool, bigger bigger bigger and faster than the traditional library...
    I designate a time and a place exclusive for writing. So for reading the electronic and traditional mail, promote my store online and may etceteras.
    Nevertheless, sometimes writing becomes a difficult task to do at home and there are inevitable all kind of interruptions which range from telemarketers, door bell ringing for any reason, cats playing around, grandkids want this and that, husband is sick and needs something, visitors, a neighbor wants a recipe or explain Mathematics for her child because the new Common Core method is too complicated to understand. Any day, one of my daughters counted I had thirteen interruptions just in five minutes.

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  16. This is my biggest problem! The internet is both blessing and curse. I am constantly being drawn into online conversations with friends and so my writing is always interrupted. I feel like I can never get away!

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