Face it, every writer gets to a point in the middle of her novel when it's not so exciting any more. It's just more of the same old thing, and this bored feeling makes it easy to play around online, wasting minutes that turn into hours. After a while, though, you may start to feel a little guilty at wasting precious work hours instead of progressing on your novel. Oh, sure, you could watch YouTube videos and call it research, but why not get a little more creative with your procrastination and waste time on something that actually helps your career?
Learn a New Language
With Duolingo, you can take mini language lessons and pick up useful phrases in over a dozen languages. It's available to download for all phone systems, and it's free. With gamification, five-minute lessons, and fun phrases, you can set your next novel in a foreign country and add some smart, native dialogue.
Watch a TED Talk
These informational speech videos now cover just about every conceivable topic on the planet. It's the easiest, most entertaining way to learn about a serious subject you never even realized you cared about. Look up some topics that connect with your novel and do some serious learning.
At Skills for Change, you can volunteer your talents in micro amounts to work toward charities that match your interests. Non profits are looking for people who can make one tweet, click on one Facebook like, give three suggestions, post one answer, or contribute one sentence. The act of giving tiny amounts may not increase your book sales, but the inner boost you get from doing good can be just the inspiration you need to get back into the trenches.
Take a Course
At Coursera, you'll find hundreds of college courses given by full professors on college campuses around the world. These courses are free, and cover every topic you can think of. Need to learn about medieval history or molecular gastronomy to make one of your characters come to life? You can do it here at your own pace, and you can break up the lessons into chunks the size you want.
Organize Your Files
Is your hard drive a mish mash of downloaded possible cover photos and links to websites in your favorites all jumbled together? Spend ten minutes organizing your bookmarks or download files into sensible folders. You'll be able to work much more efficiently after that.
Get a blank piece of paper and come up with five new ideas for book marketing, five plot twists to explore further, five things you need to research for your next book, or five great new characters you want to introduce. The idea is to get rid of all those extra thoughts flying around in your head, and put them in concrete form. Once they're on the page, put the page aside until you've reached your writing goal for the day.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!