Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Freedom: An App That Will Save Your Life (or Just Your Time)

I have a confession to make:

I am terrible at managing my time.

As a writer, this is a pretty terrible quality to have. Around a day job, friends, family, and life, good time management skills are essential to living out the writer's dream. Manuscripts don't write themselves. Characters don't just live out their stories without one of us sitting at the keyboard. Writing is, really, the art of self-motivation; of carefully constructing your day around work you know you have to do, but with no boss looking over your shoulder to keep you going.

And so, like most people with handicaps, I find ways to overcome. I set schedules to which I don't always adhere. I design reward systems to encourage meeting the schedule and topping word counts.

But it doesn't always work out. It's easy to be distracted by life, by social media, by our other responsibilities.

Some time ago, I found this app called Freedom. At first, I thought it was a totally ridiculous idea: why would I spend $10 on something that just turns off my internet? Couldn't I turn off my own internet, set an alarm on my phone, and go to town?

Except that I would turn it back on again. I'd think to myself, "I need to look up such-and-such for this scene," or, "I really should reply to so-and-so," and then forty minutes later I'd be tweeting and chatting and reading newspaper articles about Syria and my word count would still be hovering less than halfway to my daily goal.

So, I buckled down and spent the ten bucks to install Freedom. I will never, ever regret it. It doesn't let you cheat. You put in the time you want to work, uninterrupted, and it absolutely refuses to let you back online. The program won't even let you close it once you start the timer.

Setting it for even 30 minutes is still a novel experience for me: suddenly, I'm writing like a fiend again, with no distractions, and no interruptions (except that real life stuff that you sometimes can't avoid). The best is if I squirrel away my smart phone in my bedroom, and go to another room to write. The phone is just as distracting as a laptop!

Anyway, the point of my story is that if you're anything like me, and have a hard time managing distractions and scheduling time to write, sometimes you need outside intervention. It's all right. You don't have to feel self-conscious about it.

Freedom is there to help.

Read more of Kiersi's writing advice on her blog, The Prolific Novelista, or follow her on Twitter at @kiersi.


  1. This is such a great app for a fellow author and friend of mine who was literally telling me yesterday about how she is horrible at managing her time and gets distracted quite easily. I've never heard of this before but I'm dying to tell her about it! Thanks, Kiersi!

  2. Absolutely, Gina! I hope it's helpful for your friend. It's such a crazy idea but it really works for some people!

  3. Couldn't do it. lol I have two laptops I've conditioned myself to work on one and play on the other. That works well for me. I think I'd freak out if I knew I couldn't get online even if I have no desire to go online. I'm wacky like that. ;)

  4. There is truly something for everything! I'm the same way about managing time (especially during the spring. I get spring fever something terrible) but my vice is the television. If only there were an app for blocking that! (Or maybe there already is...)

  5. Hardcore! But useful, I'm sure. Not there yet, but I could see how it would help.