Week Six: Online Writing Group

It’s the sixth week of the Summer 2015 Online Writing Group!

We’ve got three weeks left in our online writing group, so celebrate with your leftover Fourth of July fireworks and then get down to business!

A few of you didn’t get your week six goals to me, so you’re getting a holiday Patriot Pass (I just made that up). Feel free to share your week’s goals in the comments section or send me something today (Monday) and I will include it with Bev’s guest post on Tuesday!

Patriot Pass

Here are Everyone’s Week Six Updates & New Goals:

  • Anne: This week I’m hoping to catch up on some much needed journaling as well as continuing my research from several weeks ago. I’m to the point where I need to do some serious historical research to find inspiration to continue to write what I began years ago. I feel like doing this historical research will help me because I love history, so it will be like a muse for me to continue several of my stories that I have put on the back burner for the past few years. Also, I have really been getting into the Folktale genre lately and I hope to try and write a short, original Folktale by the end of the week. 
  • Anuar: No update: Patriot Pass
  • Bev: Last week, I wrote the guest blog post and two of my own blog posts (read Bev’s blog, Fiacre’s Spade), worked on my story of the wedding in Sugar Land, TX that I attended in April, and found several promising leads on agents. This week, I will do two more blog posts, finish the wedding story, and read the first three pages of my memoir to be sure it really pops, since at least one agent only wants the first three pages. I will also update my query letter.
  • Bonnie: No update: Patriot Pass
  • Curt: No update: Patriot Pass
  • DonnaNo update: Patriot Pass
  • Laura: I wrote a couple of blog posts last week and added four new pages to my short story, so I feel good. This week I’ll finish the story’s last scene and do at least one blog post (this one doesn’t count).
  • Lisa: I’m back! I hope to do about five pages this week. Fingers crossed.
  • Mary: I successfully updated again! After a rocky start, this seems to be keeping me on track. For this week I will update again and I’m going to shoot for two this time. Go big or go home. Or something. (Go BIG, Mary!)
  • Mary MargaretNo update: Patriot Pass
  • Matthew: No update: Patriot Pass
  • Mike: My objectives for this week are to complete the draft of the first half of the story. I made good progress with the second half of the story (actually writing a few pages of it, rather than just outlining it) last week, and now I want to flesh out the missing parts in that first half.
  • RobertNo update: Patriot Pass
  • Samantha: No update: Patriot Pass
  • SteveI’m still writing my paper on Mendelssohn. Got to page 31, and switched from 12 point to 11 point font, so I still have room to finish my 25-30 page assignment. HA! (Good trick, Steve!)

If you took a Patriot Pass last week and want to get back on track, I have a couple of ideas to cut down on computer/Internet/social networking distractions.

I know that Facebook, for me, is a time waster. I could scroll through for hours, looking at friends’ pictures, following goofy clickbait links to goofy articles about celebrity make-up habits and adorable baby animals. And then I look up and realize that the sun has set, the dog needs to be fed, and I haven’t gotten out of my pajamas all day long. It’s kind of depressing.

Twitter has a similar effect on me, but many of the accounts I follow are news sources or book blogs, so at least I feel like the time I spend following links and reading articles are keeping me in the loop for what’s going on in the world. Not so with Facebook; so I deleted the Facebook app on my phone and allow myself to access the site only when I’m on my computer. This cut down on my Facebook time significantly and made me feel better about my media consumption.

But, when I’m on my computer at home, the Internet is right there: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Flavorwire, and so on and so forth ad infinitum. So, how do I control myself? If I’m working on a short story, it’s easy because all I need open is a Word document. But if I’m writing a blog post, I’m on WordPress, and just opening up my Internet browser is a slippery slope (case in point: I started this post at 8 a.m. today and have so far been distracted by my blog’s WordPress analytics, my Goodreads updates page, GIFs from the U.S. women’s soccer team World Cup finals, and, of course, Facebook. It’s currently 2:16 p.m. That’s a lot of wasted time.

So let’s acknowledge that the Internet, while a brilliant tool when used responsibly, is also the devil’s screwdriver. Or the devil’s television. Or something made by the devil, I don’t know. Here are two tools designed to beat the devil and his wonderful, wonderful GIFs:

Self Control

Self Control is a free software developed by Charlie Stigler and is designed to keep you from the websites and applications that are most distracting to you.

Once you download Self Control, you’re able to import or add each website you want to block to a “Blacklist”. These sites will be unavailable to you during a timed session, which you set yourself. Once you have your list completed, you set your timer and won’t be able to access any of the sites on your “Blacklist” until the timer runs down. It’s easy and it’s effective.

Self Control sliding timer

Self Control sliding timer


ZenWriter is a text editing software from Beenokle that gives the user a full screen text window — with limited formatting options — and a few options for background images and music. I love the idea of writing in a full screen window; if you can’t see your applications and alerts, you won’t be bothered by them. I haven’t been able to try ZenWriter because it’s a Windows application and I have a Mac. If you give the free trial a shot, though, let me know how you find it.

And if you want to keep it simple and not spend a dime, just make your Word document Full Screen. It’s simple to get into: View – Enter Full Screen; and just hit “Escape” to get out of it. Here’s a short video to walk you through (warning: this video is very exciting):

But before you do anything, please watch this video of foxes jumping on a trampoline. Then get to work!

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