The Organized Writer: Surfing Without Wandering

by Jeff Abbott on January 6, 2009

One of the great things about the Internet are blogs.

One of the worst things about the Internet are blogs.

For some, blogs are the perfect procrastination–a quick read. I once got stuck on a plot point and thought, oh, I’ll just catch up on a friend’s blog–and then of course, thirty minutes later, I’m reading blogs and I haven’t solved my writing problem.

This is particularly a challenge if you follow a list of excellent blogs.

So–here’s my solution. 

I realized I really don’t need to read my favorite blogs each and every day. I really don’t. Often they’re not updated each day; and even if they are, that doesn’t mean I need to read them every day. And it’s a better and more effective use of my time to scan them maybe once or twice a week. I don’t necessarily want a blog feed to be alerting me every time there’s a new posting. 

So here’s my solution, which I use on Safari, but should work on any browser that supports tabs, and should work also for websites that aren’t blogs that you find yourself tempted to check.

I made a tab in the bookmark bar for each day of the week: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and so on. I put two-three bookmarks under each day. On Sunday, it’s Facebook, and a couple of blogs I read to stay abreast of developments in international crime and foreign policy. On Monday, it’s a couple of writer blogs. And so on. And on Monday–wait for it–those under the Monday tab are the only blogs I read. No others. I’m not tempted to go read another blog that I know I’ll read on Thursday–Thursday’s the day  for that blog. I am really not missing much if I don’t read it today. All the juicy goodness will still be there on Thursday. I think this might also help me drop a couple that are borderline on keeping my interest.

So far, this is really working well for me. Simple and self-limiting.

    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    Kristan January 6, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I certainly agree with the problem! Not sure I have the self-restraint for the solution… Although maybe that’s all the more reason to give it a shot. Because goodness knows the internet sucks all my time. :(
    It IS comforting to know that even you, a seasoned successful author, faces the same problem!

    Meg Gardiner January 7, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Thanks for the shout out. But I’m commenting to (a) complain that this post lured me into reading Nathan Bransford’s blog for twenty minutes, and (b) The Atlantic does in fact have a coterie of superb bloggers, each of whom I think you should read, at length. Have fun!

    Sybil Baker January 8, 2009 at 8:39 am

    This is good advice–I find it too easy to sneak a peek a my RSS feed instead of making a strict schedule of when I read certain blogs. But your post reminded me of the time I waste doing that–thanks!

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