The Internet is a phenomenal playground of information right at our fingertips.  However, using the Web ineffectively can slow you down, especially when you have better things to do like working on your article or novel.  It’s amazing how much time we lose when we allow the Web to steer us away from our writing priorities.  It’s so easy to switch over to the Internet to check out a fact, look up a word, or do some research—after all it’ll only take a few minutes, at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

Well, if you’re like me, getting distracted by the Web isn’t hard to do. Once my Web explorations cost me an hour, and I was nowhere near finishing that 2,000 word assignment.  But I wanted to fact check something I’d written and was certain that I’d seen the information in a journal article I read.   Rather than insert an “FC” (which I now use to denote information I need to fact check) and keep writing, I spiraled down into an hour’s worth of not only finding the article of interest, but also eyeing other articles that I found pertinent—and to make matters worse, I didn’t even use the extra information in my final article.

These days, I’m doing my best to stay focused on my writing without all the Web-related diversions.  And to help me do just that I’ve incorporated some ground – actually, virtual – rules when I’m in writer mode.  Check them out:

  1. Just write!  It’s a simple notion but very hard to do when an abundant source of information is just one click away.  But setting aside a specific time to just write allows me to stay focused on the task at hand.
  2. I’ve created an accountability writing schedule.  It’s a calendar that I created using Gmail and I share it with a few people who check in on my writing progress.
  3. To avoid checking facts and information online when I’m writing I’ve created shortcuts that I insert, one of them I mentioned already is “FC” (a fact check reminder).
  4. Most importantly, I keep my Firefox Web browser closed until I’m done writing.  I also used Mozilla Thunderbird and I shut down as well.

How do you get in the habit of building a steady, uninterrupted writing flow?