NaNo Tip No. 12: Turn the Internet off

It’s day 12 and on the NaNoWriMo blogs there’s much talk of word counts missed, scenes not written, and of generally falling behind. Now that is to be expected. As previously mentioned I do not think you should be freaking out about word counts. NaNoWriMo is chance to stretch and grow. However, I can’t help noticing that those same blog bemoaning lack of progress are also full of talk of excellent blogs with great NaNoWriMo advice and sundry other things discovered on these wonderous intramanets. Could it be that the one is getting in the way of the other?

Perhaps now is the time to rip the DSL from the wall, switch your cable off, hide your modem. Maybe you need to make your internet go away entirely until you’ve gotten as much writing done as you’re capable of.

I am a creature of little self control so sometimes I have Scott take the internet from me so I do not start chatting with everyone I know for hours and hours about writing rather than, you know, actually writing. The most and most consistent writing I’ve ever done was when staying in an internet-less house.

I worry that some of you are as bad as me.

How about for the next few days you experiment with not having the internet on while you NaNoWriMo?

Let me know how it goes.

Note: Today’s tip was brought to you by a swearing John Scalzi.

Don’t forget to check out Scott’s tips. Yesterday’s one was about the passage of disbelief.


  1. wandering-dreamer on #

    I’m a little behind myself but that was because of papers/a couple of massive headaches so I can’t really blame the internet (and then where would I get my writing music? Curse you itunes for eating half my Enya songs!). And, amusingly enough, my LJ has also been neglected the past few days so I guess I need to play catch up on both ends. Maybe if I promise myself Project Runway when I’m done….

  2. Cyndy Otty on #

    I am absolutely the most easily distracted person when it comes to writing, well, anything really. I find my attention can easily be diverted with even music on at times, but the Intarwebs are a big venue for distraction and subsequent procrastination. So, I do employ the “shut off the modem” technique when writing because otherwise I’d never actually get writing done.

  3. mida on #

    honestly, it probably depends on the the type of story you are writing. I’ve found that I get more words down if I use the web for inspiration and research, as opposed to when i write straight from the brain. It’s the type of Web browsing that matters, really.

  4. Becca on #

    I allow myself tiny tastes of an internet fix after I’ve finished a certain something: When I get three more scenes written, I can read a blog. Like mida, I sometimes need My Friend Google to get me through one of those square-brackets moments.

    But distractions? Don’t end when I’m unplugged. Even though I know this, it is good advice to separate myself from the possibility of checking email at every “bing” noise.
    Thanks for doing all these advice posts. It sort of feels like getting writing advice from a friend (but, you know, in a totally non-stalkery manner).

  5. Dr. Phil on #

    One of the great things about owning a bunch of old computers is that I can sit down at a machine that is not connected to the Internet and do nothing but type. It doesn’t take all that much of a computer to write. Back in the Stone Ages we wrote just fine on 4.77 MHz IBM PCs and 2MHz Apple ][s. (grin)

    Dr. Phil

  6. Roberta on #

    Thank you so much for your Nano-tips, Justine! Especially for the one about square brackets – I had neverthought of that before. Yor really are saving my life with your brilliant Nano tips – well, at least my novel.
    Thanks again and greetings from Germany

  7. DWongster on #

    But if we turn off the internet, how do we get to see the awesome NaNoWriMo tipes from you and Scott?

    Oh, the dilemma.

    Wait, sounds like a scene for my plot…

  8. Kirby Crow on #

    Ditto ditto ditto. The internet (and writer’s groups where you TALK about writing rather than write!) is one of the biggest time-sucks on the planet. That and maybe crochet. XD

    I second Dr Phil’s advice about owning a machine that isn’t even connected to the internet. Any old machine will do: laptop, Alphasmart, old Win 98. Heck, a legal pad and pencil if you just can’t stop yourself from checking email.

    And to think that the advent of digital word processors were supposed to help us write more and better. Of course that was when they were inside boxy word processing machines rather than computers. Or when they were typewriters. Ah, the good old days… not.

  9. PixelFish on #

    My writing laptop is never hooked up to the internet. And fortunately (for values of fortunate) the onboard wireless card has never worked. I once thought about getting it fixed, but realised that was madness. I write better and more when I can’t get at the interwebs.

  10. Clussman on #

    I’m not sure if the best part of your advice about not being distracted by blogs on writing is the fact that it was a blog post or when you linked to Scott’s blog for more tips at the end of it. 😉

    I’m pretty sure it was the latter. The first was somewhat unavoidable.

  11. Allison on #

    But.. but… that’s HARD! I don’t WANNA turn off the internet… I am ridiculously behind, though. Maybe you’re on to something here.
    NO! It’s too hard! *wail* What will I do without your tips? Or MJ’s tweet’s? Or John’s videos?
    I don’t think I can actually turn OFF the internet. But I CAN use an old laptop that isn’t connected TO the internet! Thanks to @Dr.Phil for that idea. I think I’ll try it.

  12. Christopher on #

    The internet always goes off. That damn thing is distracting. I put music on and I type, that’s the routine. I do keep track of word counts but only to make sure that I hit my min. everyday.

    I talk about the fact that I don’t really care if I finish the novel in November on my blog. The main reason is that i have finished two books this year. I don’t feel I need a reason to write anymore.

    Now if I could just get good at it.

    P.S. – Saying John Scalzi was swearing is redundant.

  13. Rachel on #

    Yes, I am guilty of doing everything and anything on the computer except actually writing when I have the internet. It is just so easy to reach for a distraction with websites. However near the end of November I will be traveling to my grandmother’s computer-less house, and I should be more successful writing while there.

  14. Sash on #

    Well ‘I love mac freedom’, which allows me to turn off my mac’s internet access for however many minutes I like and then, magically, it comes back on when the times up. I don’t have to rip plugs out of walls, or hide modems anymore. And I find if I set it for a reasonable time, like 60 minutes, then I get some work done and get a little reward at the end. Repeat that for a few hours and suddenly a heap of work is done.
    If you have a mac. If you are a naughty procrastinator (like me), get it. It’s free too, so even better.

  15. Shaideneuse on #

    I’m guilty of this. I can’t count the number of times I’ve committed to writing, justified internet use by telling myself I need to look up a word I can’t remember, and then going off in a completely other direction, leaving myself, at the end of the day, with 212 words of terrible dialogue.
    The internet is a wonderful invention.

  16. Katie-wa on #


    But writing is so hard, gosh darnit! It’s easy to goof off and watch stuff instead. *sigh*

    I will do this. Later. Like, tomorrow. For reals.

  17. JoJoLindsey on #

    I tottally am guilty of all of the things that you listed. haha i do believe that is the reason i am on your blog right now! I get distracted so easy that most of the time i have to go and sit down on my bed with a pen and paper just so i wont get distracted!! Thanx for the tips they’re very helpful!!! GO NANOWRIMO!!!

  18. Ninja Fanpire on #

    I know what you mean, I end up on the internet all the time when I sit down to write.
    But, I’m not reading NaNoWriMo tips (Well, except for this one).

    I figure it’s write then sit around having others tell me what they do, or how to do it, or what helps, or whatever.

  19. Tim on #

    I occasionally wonder how much more productive that I would be if I didn’t have Facebook…

  20. Tracy on #

    Amen, sister! I love to just leave my computer off, and write in a notebook. It’s too easy to get distracted when there’s fun stuff research to do on the internet. Before you know it, the kids are all home from school, and you’ve been doing fun stuff research all day! That darn internet is a huge time-suck.

  21. K. L. Kerr on #

    It’s not that simple for me. I know from past experience that turning off the Internet will not solve my problem of procrastination. If it’s not for the Internet, I’ll do just about anything to avoid writing, be it watching a film or cleaning the entire house from top to bottom. Of course, the Internet is RIGHT THERE, which I suppose does make it harder to avoid.

  22. Chad Grayson on #

    school projects + home schooling + internet + swine flu = word count fail. I am not certain why I am not, in fact, behind. Maybe the anti-mucus meds are just making me want to NaNo … scary editing to come, I guess.

  23. Alfvaen on #

    Yes, but most of my writing this year is happening in word wars on IRC. (A large chunk of the rest happens at live write-ins, ditto.) But then, I’m in Edmonton; other NaNo regional communities may not be as effective, I’ve heard.

  24. Chris on #

    I too like a good Internet fix–fun stuff or news–as a reward. I can’t turn it off though since I use it for research when I’m writing. Self control is the key.

  25. Ninja Fanpire on #

    I’ve found that using Write or Die on helps me write better and stay focused on writing.

Comments are closed.