Monday, April 26, 2010

Mac Freedom

Okay, so I've known about Mac Freedom for a while but was never really interested in it.  Essentially, it's a program that will lock your computer from the internet for whatever period of time you specify.  If you want to go online you either have to wait until that time is up or you have to reboot your computer.  It's SUPER easy to use.

Honestly, I never though I'd need this program.  Sure, other writers raved about it, but I've always been able to pretty much restrict myself to writing when necessary (usually the closer I get to a deadline, the more restrictive I become).  I've been known to turn off my wifi during writing sprints if necessary but I always thought that if I totally disconnected from the internet -- and such disconnection was beyond my control -- that I'd just spend that time wondering about what I was missing (and checking my iPhone for email instead).

And the thing is, I *know* there are times when I'm in the middle of a scene and a new email comes in and I go check it and when I finally get back to the scene I've lost momentum.  I've done this countless times.  And even if I force myself *not* to check the email but to finish the scene then there's just this little gnat buzzing in the back of my head that there's an email there's an email there's an email.

I also know that I have a tendency to go flip around through twitter or email when I'm stuck on a scene and what I really should be doing is forcing myself to work through the stuck bit.  Sometimes it's too easy to distract myself when what I really need is to not be distracted.

I don't even know why yesterday or the day before I tried Mac Freedom.  Maybe I was more distracted than usual but for whatever reason I booted the program up (I'd already downloaded it ages ago) and gave myself 30 minutes of Freedom.  Essentially all that does is just stop your computer from connecting online (my computer was still connected to my home network so I could continue to back up and access the time capsule).

Suddenly I didn't have to worry about interruptions.  I didn't have to worry about *me* interrupting myself.  Sure, I had one point where I really wanted to double check research online but waiting 30 minutes to do so is hardly a hardship.

It's hard to express what the feeling was like when Freedom kicked in.  The best I can explain it was that there was just this calm silence filtering over everything.  Suddenly, the part of my brain that's wondering what's new online and what I'm missing just... vanished.  I thought it would get louder and more insistent but apparently even that part of myself can last for just 30 minutes.

It really was like silence.  That's exactly what I felt at the time: calm silence.  Life didn't have to jostle around in my brain: it was just me and my story and everything else could just wait half an hour.

I've used Freedom several times since then -- in fact, my new routine is to play around online (see eg. now) and then lock down for 30 minutes and write and then play around online.  So far it's really worked: I've written over 9k words on my new project since coming home from New Orleans a few days ago.  (I'm sure it doesn't hurt that I'm still in the honeymoon phase with this project :)

So yep, I was a total skeptic and thought I didn't need an external program to help me focus but it turns out that whether I need it or not, it sure is nice to have.  Now I actually get a little tingle of excitement when I open up the program because it feels like I'm about to go on a date with my manuscript -- just the two of us and no distractions :)

PS: I have a free trial version, I can't tell from looking at their website if you can try it out before donating $10 to unlock the full version.


Sarah said...

Yes yes! I get distracted so often and I really try not to be. I started using Mac Freedom while getting to the end of my last manuscript and it worked SO well for me. Of course, my DROID needs something similar because I kept checking that since I couldn't check email or twitter on the computer with Freedom running. Meh.

I wonder if it was easier a half century ago to finish manuscripts. I feel like the distractions weren't as instantaneous.

Jess said...

I don't use a program, I just disconnect my internet, and the little yellow sign over my connection bars saying I have no connection acts the same way. Oh, I can wait. I write 5p and then I reconnect, doodle around a bit, disconnect and do 5 more pages. It's amazing how well it works.

The program my hubs has on his Mack is Write Room, that makes your document full-screen so you can't even see your toolbar, when you're REALLY in need of some focus.

MH said...

Love Mac Freedom! Great for working on a brief or on my novel :)

Elizabeth Briggs said...

I'm going to try this!

Katie Anderson said...

Ahhh... welcome to the club :)

It really is FREEDOM!

Daisy Whitney said...

I use Freedom too and love it!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

try Dr wicked's program - if you stop writing, it starts to erase your words!

Nora MacFarlane said...

Oh my gosh, I just tried the Dr. Wicked. It erases your words if you don't go fast enough! That's one way to silence an inner editor.

I'm seriously thinking about trying Mac Freedom tomorrow morning. Social networking has become a huge time suck for me. As soon as I post, I'm checking for replies. At this rate, I'll never get anything written!