8 Deliciously Guilt-Free Writing Distractions 


Writing distractions—they’re fun, seductive, and wickedly addictive. And, as long as you’re doing research, indulging is guilt-free.

illustration of author surrounded by writing distractions

“The internet has made such research nearly effortless…” Illustration by Josh Quick

Below are eight delectable writing distractions guaranteed to boost mood and increase productivity. But beware! Over-indulgence may cause adverse reactions.

1. Explore online dating sites for your romance novel

You discovered one that appears to have a surplus of MDs. Actually, it might be fun (and convenient) for you to date a doctor.

You spend 30 minutes checking out doctors’ profiles until you realize “MD” stands for “Maryland,” as in Baltimore, MD.  Since Maryland is 1,500 miles away, you abandon your search.

2. Check every three minutes to see if The New York Times has accepted your latest op-ed   

This counts as research. You scan your email in search of all the news that’s fit to announce. Nothing yet. You quickly skim the headlines to make sure they didn’t publish your piece without permission (you never know) and find yourself reading about Meghan Markle’s mother’s rise to royalty.

You spend 20 minutes fantasizing about your millennial daughter’s ascension to American royalty as the first female president, and how you, as her now-famous mom, will have to fight off editors vying to publish your memoir. It’s a real war out there.

3. Contact people from the past for your memoir

You need to track down your college boyfriend to get his take on the traumatic breakup, the one that resulted in a debilitating addiction to cashews, lightly roasted with a touch of curry. 

No luck, but you spend an hour searching for the cute guy in the marching band who moved away in ninth grade and is not remotely connected to you or your memoir.

4. Fantasize about adopting a pet for your feature article on animal shelters

Those gratuitous rejections would be more palatable if you had a pet to shower you with unconditional love and support. What about that adorable puppy you saw last week on the SPCA website? Is he still there?

No, but you spend 10 minutes researching gold-thread pet mattresses and dog dating sites. 

5.  Investigate spooky apartment buildings online for your thriller 

You come across the dilapidated Chelsea walk-up you sold ten years ago. Those dark stairs would be perfect for the climactic scene with the killer. But wait, they’ve renovated the whole building. And your rundown walkup now rents for $6,000 a month.

You resist the urge to think about your last royalty statement. 

6.  Research retro TV shows for your essay on growing up in the 70s

Years ago, if you wanted to watch an old TV show, you had to visit the Museum of Broadcasting in New York. This could take an entire day, even if you lived close by. But the internet has made such research nearly effortless.

You spend three minutes discovering that Lassie was actually a male dog, and recalling all the episodes where Lassie gave birth to puppies.

7. Look up that adorable actor on the Hallmark Movie Channel for your rom-com screenplay

You spend 20 minutes criticizing his real-life fiancé who is not at all attractive and obviously makes him miserable. Why else do they keep postponing the wedding date? 

8. Hunt for reviews of your new YA novel

Nothing yet, but you have a bad moment when you stumble onto a review of your first novel, the one that refers to the character based on you as extreme and poorly characterized. 

You spend 10 minutes researching internet restriction apps. 

I have a confession to make. I’ve indulged in every one of these writing distractions while writing this piece. But I had to do it for research. 


Need more guilt-free writing distractions? Consider becoming a big fan—and letting people know about it. 

Author headshot
Pamela Jane (Guest Blogger)

Pamela Jane is the author of more than thirty children’s books, from board books to memoir. Her recent children’s books include the much-loved Halloween book, Little Goblins Ten, a spinoff of the classic rhyme “Over in the Meadow.” The Christmas sequel is Little Elfie One. Both books are published by Harper and illustrated by NY Times best-selling illustrator, Jane Manning. Pamela is also the author of a new memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Story (her main talent growing up though she never became famous for it.) In addition to children’s books and memoir, Pamela is the coauthor of Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover’s Romp Through Jane Austen’s Classic. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times,  The Wall Street Journal, Writer’s Digest, The Writer, the New York Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Baltimore Sun, and The Antigonish Review, among other places.