By "non-writing" I mean any activity that does not add to the word count of a work in progress.
I like daydreaming about my characters. I like to look things up on the internet, even if they are only marginally related to my story. I like to look for character names in my old baby name books. I like to take to take Google street-view tours of distant cities. (Hey, it's educational!) I like to make cloud diagrams in notebooks. I like to keep a pen and notebook nearby at all times, you know, just in case. I like to browse through books on Amazon, and authors' websites, even when I have not read their book. And I especially like to pretend that these activities further the progress my writing.
Yes, I like to think that they do, even though I know, in my heart of hearts, that they do not.
For me, planning is not writing. Research is not writing. Diagramming and scribbling notes are not writing. Dreaming is not writing. Blogging about writing is not writing. And thinking about writing is definitely not writing. The only thing that is writing is when I am sitting in front of my computer tying words in Word, and with my internet browser closed.
I don't know how it works for others, but for me, even writing with pen on paper is not really writing, either. To really and truly write, I have to use my computer. And the obvious problem with this, of course, is that internet is exactly one click away at all times. Real writing is hard work. And the constant siren-call of the internet is very tempting. Very, very. (The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!)
Anyway, here is the imperfect and partial solution I use to keep myself focused on writing in the face of this enormous temptation.
I bargain with myself. Little things. I'll decide, for example, that today I have to write for one hour before I can check my email. Or maybe, I have to write for two hours before I can check any blogs, mine or anyone else's. Three hundred words might equal one coffee re-fill, or eight hundred words might mean lunch.
Oftentimes, just getting started is the hardest part of the writing day, and somehow, knowing these little rewards are coming makes it easier to begin the work. After getting started, if I've managed to establish some momentum, then I'll forget forget about the coffee, or the website I wanted to check out, or whatever it was that was so tempting initially.
It's silly, I know, but it works. Usually.
I'd like to hear from other writers. How do you keep yourself writing, when there are so many easier things you could be doing?