Want To Turn ON Your Muse? Turn OFF The Internet! By Diane Stark

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Recently, my home Internet service was out for three days. When my teenage children awoke and discovered this travesty of justice, they joked that they may as well go back to bed. I wasn’t happy about it, either. After all, I’m a writer, and I need the Internet to work.

Here’s my typical day when the internet is working: Check my email first thing in the morning. After all, an editor may have had insomnia and read my submission in the middle of the night. Make coffee and check my email again. Aforementioned editor may have decided to wait until dawn to respond to my submission. Open up the Word document containing my latest work in progress. Type two paragraphs. Check my email. Maybe aforementioned editor likes to drink a second cup of coffee before responding to submissions. Type another paragraph. Check email. Wonder what to fix for dinner tonight. Google recipes containing ground beef and green beans, as that is the only food in the house. Visit the website of my local grocery store to find out what’s on sale this week since, clearly, a trip to the store is in my future. Check email. Type one more paragraph. Check Facebook. Make more coffee. Realize we’re running low on K-cups. Visit Amazon and three other sites to determine the best price on more liquid caffeine. Check email. And realize I’m five minutes late to pick up my son from school.

Here’s what I did on the days the Internet wasn’t working: I wrote. All day. For three days straight.

When our internet service was restored, I had a total of seven submissions ready to go out to editors. Seven completed stories in three days! It was a new record for me. I was telling my husband how much more I got done when the Internet was out and how I almost wished it would go out more often.

He smirked and said, “The Internet has a power button. You can turn it off any time you want to.”

Yes, my husband is a very smart man. I decided to test the theory. I turned off the Internet and tried to concentrate on writing. Then I remembered something I needed to Google. Rather than interrupt my writing time, I wrote myself a reminder to check on that later. Each time I became distracted, I wrote that task on my “Internet-To-Do List,” which would be completed at the end of the day.

I found my productivity sky-rocketed. Rather than acting on every random thought I had throughout the day, focusing solely on writing for several hours at a time made a huge difference. I got more writing done, and spending time on the Internet became a reward at the end of the day.

Now, maybe you don’t struggle with Internet interruptions. But, if you’re like me and your mind works like the mouse’s in the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, rather than following every bunny trail, try logging off for a day or two each week.

Your kids may not like it, but your editors – and your checking account – will appreciate the change.

Diane Stark is a wife, mother, and freelance writer. Her work has been published in more than two dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books, as well as many regional and national magazines. She loves to write about the important things in life: her family and her faith. Diane can be reached at DianeStark19-at-yahoo.com.