brain with flexed arms

Control distractions when you write

You want to write, and you have a plan in mind. Experts have assured you that you need to practice discipline and block out areas of time during which you will only write. You know you need to control distractions.

You look at your weekly schedule, determine that you’re a morning person, and decide that you’ll get up extra-early and write for two hours. You assure yourself that this is dedicated time.

However, once you’re sitting in front of your computer, you think it would probably make sense to clear your mind by checking your emails. You’ll only scan the headers and only answer one if it’s essential. Otherwise, you’re not going to get involved in responses.

Or maybe a news site calls you. You’re a responsible citizen who needs to know what’s going on in the world.

Or you’ve been writing for a full half-hour. Don’t you deserve a reward? Why don’t you see what your Facebook friends are up to?

Whichever Internet outlet you choose, the odds are good that the simple checkup will evolve into an extended visit. Time passes in a blur, and you don’t meet your writing goals. In fact, even if you make a brief detour from writing to visit social media, it can take you an average of 23 minutes to refocus on what you were writing.

You might need Freedom.

What is Freedom?

Freedom is a software program with over one million users that allows you to block internet usage selectively. It enables you to control distractions.

You can, for example, use it to block Facebook and Twitter from 5 to 7 AM if those are the hours you’ve designated for writing. Freedom is designed so that you can set up any kind of schedule that suits you.

Why Isn’t Will Power Enough to Control Distractions?

control distractions with timers

It is enough for some people, but we’re seeing more and more evidence that social media has effects on our brains that are similar to those of highly addictive drugs. It’s designed to be addictive, and most people aren’t immune to it.

The people who designed Freedom recognize that even setting up a block may not be enough. They have an additional feature that lets you lock yourself out from removing a block. This means that if you’ve set it up to prevent you from accessing Facebook, for example, during your designated times, you’ll be blocked.

You Can Still Go on the Internet

In the past, I’ve tried programs that initiated a total lockout from the Internet. It sounded good in principle, but I found that it prevented me from doing needed research. If you write any kind of nonfiction—and this issue can also come up with fiction—you often need to fact check or look up the meaning of a word to make sure you’re using it correctly.

Freedom allows you to do this. For your part, don’t try to convince yourself that you’ll find the facts you need on Facebook or Twitter.


A year’s subscription to Freedom costs $2.42 a month.

Visit Freedom at for more information.

Pat Iyer is an editor and ghostwriter and the host of Writing to Get Business Podcast. She is working on reducing her time on Facebook and news sites.