I decided to put into practice some of those tips from lifehacker.com and elsewhere about productivity. The chief one I thought I'd try is this:
No Internet access until after 5 p.m.
Here are the rules I set: NO Internet access until after 5 p.m., including checking bank balances, checking e-mail, reading blogs, reading newspapers, or tracking down the name of that incredibly obscure actor on IMDB. No looking up phone numbers or using the OED online. If I wanted to check on something, I could write it down and check on it after 5.
Somehow, my days had become all about avoiding work: reading blogs, checking e-mail, looking up stuff online. I felt as though I had the attention span of a gnat, and as soon as I started working on a tough sentence, I had the impulse to go online and do something else.
So far, it's working. I feel a lot calmer, somehow, and I'm getting a lot more reading done. The impulses to go online just for a minute to check something are diminishing. The writing is still coming along slowly, but it's better than before.
Oh, and the great secret about e-mail in the summer is that no one is contacting me with grants, million dollar book contracts, or vital information on anything else--at least nothing that won't wait until after 5.