Freedom, a Valentine’s Day writing date, and a mini-sabbatical.


I have four important announcements today:  

1. The Story Workshop!

We just had one spot open up in the upcoming Story Workshop. Would you like to join us last minute? Class starts February 20th. Please email us if that one spot is meant for you! 

2. Freedom!

I’ve been using Freedom on my laptop for years — that’s the software that blocks your wifi use for pre-scheduled amounts of time, so you can work uninterrupted — and I love it.

What I didn’t know until recently: FREEDOM WORKS ON YOUR PHONE TOO. Now, you might already know this. But just in case you didn’t, let me just tell you how amazing it is.

You can schedule it to block certain websites (like Gmail, so you don’t get email unless you want to) or social apps (like Instagram, Facebook, or Whats App). You can also schedule it to block everything, so it only lets you use your phone for sending/receiving texts and phone calls.

For as long as you want. Whenever you want.

I knew that I needed better boundaries for my iPhone use: I check it too often, and the constant interruptions are eroding my attention span. I put it in a drawer when I need to focus, but my problem is that it also controls my music. I want to block email and Slack, but still have access to Spotify and Sonos, so I can listen to music while I’m writing.

You can do that with Freedom! I made myself three special sessions that repeat regularly, so I don’t have to make a decision (and use my limited willpower) every time I want to focus. I write in the morning, so I blocked social apps and email from 5am - 11am every day.

In the evenings, I want to do the things I love — like cooking, knitting, reading, and talking with Ryan — without interruption, so I blocked social apps and email starting at 5pm.

On Sundays, I want to keep a Digital Sabbath. That means I don’t want to touch my phone or look at a screen all day. So I blocked everything, starting at 5am and all the way to bedtime. Here’s what that looks like on my phone:

Do you use Freedom already? If not, how do you create boundaries to keep your attention from dissolving? Any tips to share? Please share in the comments!  

3. A Valentine’s Day Writing Date! Next Tuesday, February 14th, I’m going to be holding a free writing practice call, open to everyone.

Nothing is required except a blank notebook, a fast-writing pen, and a willingness to be present with your writing. We will freewrite for an hour together — I’ll give you all the prompts, so you just have to show up. I did this last fall, and it was such a beautiful experience, I’m doing it again.

Sign up for the Valentine's Day Writing Date here.

Please do share this invitation with someone you love!


4. My Mini-Sabbatical!

I’m clearing my calendar for the next three months to finish my book. Yes! It’s really happening!

This is the time of year I usually “go away” and write, but I’m happy as a kitten in a basket of yarn to stay home at Skybarn to write this year. Since Ryan and I both work from home, Skybarn is also the Story Is a State of Mind School office. Now you understand my excitement about the Freedom app! That’s why I’m calling this a mini-sabbatical: it’s unrealistic for me to be completely offline. But I will be harder to reach than usual, and slow to respond to email.

While I’m writing, the next few newsletters coming your way will be specially-chosen classics to keep you inspired and motivated.

Story Is a State of Mind School is still in session while I’m on sabbatical, of course: thanks to Trish, Laura, Ryan, and all of our incredible teachers!

The Story Workshop starts on February 20th, and we have Creative Writing Camp coming up in March for writers ages 15-18. Don’t forget, the Little Bird Contest opens soon! (Put the contest deadline in your calendar: April 30th.)

And this just in: you can join me live every Tuesday next month for Writing Practice Sessions.

I know that the signal feels stronger when writers write together. So let’s do this!

With love + freedom,

[Editor’s note: this post contains information, dates, and links which are no longer relevant. For current offerings, see here.]

A message for the next generation of writers.
Introducing the 2017 Little Bird Writing Contest Judge: Esi Edugyan.

1 comment

Jill Talbot

I use SelfControl on my laptop. Works great. You can delete the app and it will still work. I briefly had Freedom on my phone until I discovered that I could just delete it and then get everything I wanted back... In which case, airplane mode or leaving it in the mailbox would be equally (if not more) useful. The mailbox is half a block away. There may be levels to this thing. I need the one with restraints and shocks. But if I had any inherent self control, I may not have become a writer...
Read more
Read less

Leave a comment