Better than before? Not yet, but maybe soon

I finally finished reading Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives (by Gretchen Rubin). I liked the book overall, and I’m trying to decide what I can take away from it that might help me get back on track with my writing. I’m so far behind right now!

The end of this month will mark the halfway point in this year. I’m sitting right on the 100,000 word mark for the year; that’s about 400,000 words shy of where I’d like to be. No way I’m making that up. But that doesn’t mean I have to give up the second half of the year. I can still end the year strong if I can just get back on track.

I’d blame the summer break for this, but I suspect the blame belongs on a few bad habits I let slip back into my life. May was a great month for me with the latest book release, and instead of using the 7–9 block of time in the morning for reading fiction, I fell back into an old habit of checking sales reports first thing in the morning. That led me to spending time on the internet when I should have been reading fiction and getting myself into a creative frame of mind before I needed to sit down and write at 9 am.

While on the internet this morning, I watched Garrett Robinson’s latest Writer Wednesday video and I think he’s got the right idea about the internet. I have no illusions that I’ll EVER write 50,000 words in 3 days without a miracle happening, but I do know I’ve been letting the internet distract me.

In Better Than Before, Rubin talks about the “four tendencies” which she calls Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. Although I have a few traits from all of them, I’m without a doubt a questioner. I don’t have the book in front of me, but I believe it means I need to believe in the reason(s) I have for adopting a new habit before I’ll be able to make a new habit stick. That makes sense.

I have a lot of really good reasons why I should stay away from the internet during the day, especially when I should be writing. None of the reasons I have for not staying away from the internet trump any of those good reasons.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to stay off the internet until after 4 pm every day. No internet during lunch. No quick email checking. No checking sales reports, or distracting myself with forums and blogs.

After 4 pm I can do what I want. Before 4 pm? I don’t use the internet.

If I need to research something to keep going in my story (something that’s very rare), I’ll just switch to another story and write that instead, then research after 4 pm. I think the fewer exceptions I allow, the better.

For the questioner in me: The internet is my go-to drug of choice when it comes time to find a distraction to keep me from having to push through tough spots in my stories. If I want to be prolific, I can’t make it easy for myself to find these distractions. At least with what’s left (doing dishes, washing laundry, watering my garden), I have a tangible benefit to allowing the distraction. With the internet, I usually have nothing to show for the distraction except frustration. :D

This is going to be one tough habit to create—at least as hard as my schedule habit has been to maintain these last few weeks, but I think I can do it. :D If I do, it’ll be so worth it. Less stress, less guilt, more writing!

And what internet time I do get, maybe I’ll enjoy it more in the long run and use it more wisely. :D