Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Double your NaNoWriMo productivity by writing blind.

"Write blind" sounds like a metaphor, but I mean it literally. As someone who's eyesight (or lack thereof) places me perilously close to legal blindness, I know how much blurred vision can change your perspective.
This week, I accidentally discovered how something as simple as taking off my glasses helped me double my productivity. (Never fear, 20/20 vision-ers! I have a solution for you, too!)

The scenario: I tend to procrastinate for about 40 minutes of Butt-In-Chair time before actually writing, and then when I do begin, I putz along, writing a couple sentences here or there, rereading the previous writing session's work, and generally getting distracted. I have the attention span of a goldfish, and it's NOT PRODUCTIVE. I wear much-needed glasses, and I took them off for a second to rub my tired eyes.

How I see the world.
Specifically, how I see this post without my glasses.

That's when the moment of genius (or insanity) occurred.

I left my glasses off, poised my fingers over the keyboard, and kept typing, my words appearing as black, blurred lines on the white page. Within an hour, I had 1,150 words written. I don't know about you, but that's my best possible pace.*

Why in the heck did this work?

Sure, I felt a little wonky in the brain, but thinking about it afterward, it became quite obvious why this method was a success.
  • I couldn't see the word count at the bottom of my screen, so I didn't stare at it woefully as it increased in teeny, tiny increments (and then decreased drastically as I deleted entire paragraphs).
  • I couldn't read what I'd written before (unless I squinted and leaned in til my nose nearly touched the screen, aka Insta-Headache), so I had no choice but to barrel forward.
  • I couldn't obsess and analyze over my writing as it was happening. Once my Constant Internal Critic had nothing to criticize, my writerly instincts took over.
  • I couldn't see... anything. My little Safari icon didn't tempt me. Twitter, Gmail, Blogger, Tumblr, Pandora, random Google searches, and Facebook stalkerage all ground to a halt because they were basically invisible. The distractions disappeared.

I tricked myself into doubling my productivity. And let me tell you, when I put my glasses back on and saw that new word count, it felt awesome.


Q: But Donna, I have perfect vision! Don't leave me hanging!
A: First of all, I hate you a little bit, especially if you wear non-prescription glasses because they "look cute." Ahem. Envy aside, you can create-your-own-nearsightedness by faux-blurring your page. The key is that your text document is unreadable: Make the font super-small and change the color to a light gray. Voila!

Q: I'm not quite the ASDF-JKL; typing whiz. I need to see the keys while I pick at them with two fingers!
A: Either get super cozy with your keyboard so the letters are visible, or act like a 20/20 vision-er, and follow the advice above!

Q: In a box of Animal Crackers, why does only the monkey get to wear pants?
A: I'm not sure, but the hippo wants to know. He has his hippo dignity, after all. (Bonus point if you can identify the reference.)

Your turn!
What's your quirky (or perhaps normal) method of increasing your productivity? And just how bad is your vision? (Between severe nearsightedness, astigmatism, and a partially-detached retina, I'm an opthamologist's worst nightmare.) Leave it in the comments!

* Aside: Though some of my fellow FNC-ers signed up for NaNo, I haven't, but this month is most definitely DonnaMakesSeriousProgressOnHerNovelMo!


  1. Donna I suddenly learned that I love you.

    I have only met TWO people in my entire life - that's TWO people in three decades who have worse eyesight than I do. I've got very thin retinas (no holes, whew), floaters, near legal blind (un)vision, bouts of severe SPK and two really mis-matched eyes so that my depth perception is never on.

  2. Season 2 What's My Line Part 2 Oz quote FTW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3

  3. OMG! I'm totally trying this. I can't see 8 inches in front of me and I have an astigmatism. Holy cow--this totally makes sense when writing a first draft. Totally trying it. You're a genius. Just sayin'
    Oh and my attention span is one of a goldfish as well.

  4. This is freaking brilliant. I have astigmatism and words are definitely a blurry mess on my computer screen if I take my glasses off. I also am super distraction prone and I have an internal editor that will NOT shut up!

    So yeah, totally trying this tonight!

  5. Ha! No fair if the rest of us haven't memorized Buffy like Frankie has!

    Donna, as someone who's had her share of vision problems (ever heard of Terson's syndrome? And collapsing eyeballs?) I salute you! What a great idea. I'm a whiz at typing. Think I'll try that right now!

    Oops. Not yet. I won't get the word verification right.

  6. Oh my God. This is literally the best tip I have ever read! Honestly, I never thought I would ever stop wasting hours staring at the words I've already written, but now that I can't see them...genius.


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