I mentioned on Facebook today that my writing group is valuable because it makes me accountable. We meet every two weeks, and I'm expected to bring three pages of my middle-grade novel-in-progress for critiquing. We've been meeting for several months now, and so far I've shown up with the required pages in hand. Sometimes these pages are written the day of the meeting. Did I say "sometimes"? Most of the time these pages are written a few hours before the meeting starts.
The group is great. There are four of us, all writing in the same genre and each writing quite differently. One of us has a great deal of experience with children's literature and is well published. I hope she's getting something out of these meetings, because she certainly gives a lot. The others have less experience, but are good writers and insightful readers.
However, I realized today (and I'm surprised it took me so long) that if I write this book at the rate of three double-spaced pages every two weeks, it'll take me years. And that's just for the first draft! I must speed up the process.
The other thing I mentioned on Facebook is a handy little download called Freedom (available from macfreedom.com). Costing $10, this little program sits on your monitor waiting for you to summon it. You do this when you need to accomplish something requiring your undivided attention--undivided, that is, by Words With Friends games, forum postings, commenting on someone's Facebook photo, research on ticks (or whatever), or the irresistible desire to check your email. Freedom cuts off your access to the Internet.
Once you set it for a certain amount of time (one writer recommends three hours, but my usual is 45 minutes), you are truly cut off from anything happening online. Freedom is a tough little program; you can't get around it, so don't bother trying.
So . . . now that I know the secret of productivity, I'll have to put it to use more often. Just how often is something I've yet to figure out.