Earlier this month I was reading my latest copy of “Poets & Writers” magazine and came across an article by Ellen Sussman in The Literary Life department entitled “A Writer’s Daily Habit: Four Steps To Higher Productivity” wherein she gives some very good advice about prewriting prep, blocking the internet, the unit system and daily writing. She mentioned a program called “Freedom” that blocks the internet for a certain amount of time as directed.

During the week, I rise at 04:00 to write for at least an hour and a half, usually cutting myself off sometime before 06:00, so I can make it to work on time. It’s the weekend however, and I cut myself some slack. I answer email, send a few notes to NaNo buddies, watch a video or two, check out the various forums I read, make an entry to two, visit a blog or five, make a comment on Ravven’s (only her’s…I at least have that much discipline) and lazily make a stab or two at my manuscript. What I tell myself is, “I have all day…” but the next thing I know “all day” is gone and my productivity summarily sucks major.

Reading some of my writing buddys’ comments and blogs about procrastination, etc. I was reminded of this program, so I looked it up, read about it, then purchased and d/l-ed it. One: was able to use my preferred payment method, nice. Two: easy d/l. Three: easy install. Four: easy to use. Five: it frackin’ works! I typed in 30 minutes on the interface and I was shut out of the internet for 30 minutes: no explorer, no mail, no nada. What to do, what to do? Write! Clickity, clickity, clack!

At the end of 30 minutes a small window popped up: “Close, Tweet Stats, Restart Freedom.” Of course I chose to close and get back on the internet to see if the world had changed. Kinda reminded me of being a kid and re-checking the ‘fridge or pantry every 15 minutes to see if the food-faeries had brought anything since I last looked.

Now some who have a bit more discipline than myself might say, well, why not just unplug the internet and save some money? Well that would be because I can just as easily plug it back in—did I mention having a problem resisting the ‘net’s siren call? As the program sets it up, I would have to shut down and reboot to circumvent the program. Now that’s just a pain in the ass.

At $10.00, the product was reasonable and it did what it said it would. There was a survey that hinted at future version features which would be cool: a timer so the program kicked in at a certain time (talk about setting a schedule for going to bed), a filter that would allow users to listen to music sites (think Pandora, Rivendell and Iceberg radio) and filter that would enable one to access up to three websites (a dangerous proposition I think—I would not like that one) and a few others.

I have a feeling this program and I are going to be good buddies, particularly during the NaNoWriMo but also beyond and for other reasons than writing. An additional program was advertised on the Freedom site that analyzed and charted how and where one spends their time when on the ‘net. I’m not yet brave enough to look at a pie chart of how much of my life I’ve devoted to the machine-god, so I didn’t explore that option, but if Freedom upgrades include a time setting feature…

Not that it really matters to any one in particular, but I give it four and a half stars—as soon as they feature an upgrade wherein I can listen to my beloved internet radio, I’ll give it five.

Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.