The Day I Turned My Modem Off: how I actually got some writing done

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I cannot resist being here online. I turned my modem off early this afternoon to get some writing done, which I did, but here I am, talking about how much writing I got done whilst offline. I think ‘ironic’ is the word.

I use the internet all day, every day, for work and play. I teach aspiring authors and illustrators how to use Social Media – it is fair to say that I’m addicted. But a lot of what I do online is for work, and that is how I justify my overuse of social media and the internet. And the research opportunities online are infinite. Such as today, before I turned off the modem, I was polishing up on my Latin, and translating words that I could not remember.

I was not really surprised that I got things done, though I’m amazed at how much I got done, how focused I was, and at how long I sustained writing for. Just plain, old writing.  And a change in my work space also helped enormously.

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my outdoor, uncluttered, internet-free office

It was great, I got stuff done! Like I haven’t in a long time. I dusted the cobwebs off a folder of writing, despite the fact that it is a digital one. Picture Books was the folder. I completed a first draft, from scratch. I have been working on this story for a while. I am very much a planner, so I am super pleased that I added to the plans for three picture books. I also re-organised my writing priorities as well as my (digital) filing system.

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picture book plans

So, this was a great outcome, but I still needed the internet to write. I needed to research words, names, and images. I had questions pertaining to my story that I needed to ask my colleagues and friends. I even had to Google different types of grasses found on farms. I maintained my modem-less state, but it was exceptionally difficult.  It was a craving, a real physical sensation. I find it hard to explain. I started to wonder, how did people write and research before the internet? We are very lucky to live in these times.

And then there is the game I like (do I admit the plurality of this habit?), social media services, news sites, the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) radar, and more that are constantly running in the background on multiple devices. I always have three devices running simultaneously at my desk, something that I now realise is detrimental to my writing career.

But the fact remains, I got a lot done. In three quarters of a day. More than I have in the last couple of months. If you haven’t tried turning off your modem*, then you really should give it a go. And stick to one device when writing.

Now I must post this, and then force myself to turn off my modem for the rest of the night **grits teeth, takes deep breaths, warms up ‘button pressing finger’**


*assistance from family and friends may be required in the form of an intervention, locking up of modem, throwing it out the window, or taking it for a leisurely drive so you can actually get some writing done.

5 responses to “The Day I Turned My Modem Off: how I actually got some writing done

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Email, internet, mobile phones, they are all easy distractions that keep us from getting into the flow of writing (I would add coffee to that list too 😉 ). Congrats on getting so much done!

  2. Appreciate your honesty re distractions, Sam. It is so true. The internet is a time-sucking vortex sometimes! I, too, have to exit my browser to avoid email and social network notifications, and hold to a schedule of checking in. It is too easy to lose time to read “just one more thing!”

  3. Great advice, Sam! 🙂

  4. Awesome article Sam!

  5. I think you were very brave, Sam! I am not sure if I could do it! I might need some intervention 🙂

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