Posted On March 20, 2015 by Print This Post

Come On, Block the Noise by Joanna Shupe

Do you need help to make the most of those precious writing minutes? Author Joanna Shupe has some tips to help you tackle time shortages. In addition to the helpful advice, Joanna is giving away an advance copy of her soon-to-be-released THE COURTESAN DUCHESS to one lucky commenter!


Thank you to Romance University for having me today! I am what you call a “catch as catch can” kind of writer. I have a part-time day job while my kids are in school, which means my writing time is whenever I can squeeze it in between appointments, lessons, play dates, laundry, dinner, and the hundreds of other things that pile up in my day.


Release Date: April 28

Release Date: April 28

And I know I’m not alone. There are plenty of authors out there who don’t have six or seven hours in a quiet mountaintop villa to make the daily word count quota. (Note: If you do have a quiet mountaintop villa, please call me. I won’t take up much room, I swear.) Instead, many of us live for those forty-five minutes here and twenty-minutes there when we can put words on paper.


The key is maximizing the productivity of those precious minutes—a difficult task when Pinterest is so pretty and Twitter is so interesting. Never fear! There are many great applications and utilities you can use to help you stay focused. Here are just a few:


Your Computer


1) For Mac OS X:

— The built-in OS X Notification Center shows alerts at the top right of the screen. You can block these iMessage notifications from appearing in the System Preferences panel. Under “Notifications,” click on “Do Not Disturb.” You can customize how long you want to be unreachable and whether repeated calls can be allowed through (for emergencies). ru_shupe_image01

— Self Control ( According to their site, SelfControl “lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click Start. Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites–even if you restart your computer or delete the application.” (FREE)

2) For Windows & Mac OS X:


— Freedom ( This is a very popular option. Start Freedom and specify how long you’d like to focus. Then you’re completely offline and able to work. If you need to cheat and get back online, you must reboot your computer. ($10, with 60 day money-back guarantee)

— Anti-Social ( This app blocks websites that make you unproductive. You add the sites you want to block to Anti-Social’s block list and it disappears for the time you’ve allotted. ($15, with 60 day money-back guarantee)


3) Browser Extensions


If you don’t want to install software at the operating system level, there are some free browser extensions that will help curb your surfing habits. (Browser extensions and add-ons are programs that affect only your browser. They will show up in the browser toolbar after installation. Most browsers have an online “store” where you can find extensions.)


— Firefox: LeechBlock ( LeechBlock is a simple productivity tool designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day. All you need to do is specify which sites to block and when to block them. (FREE)


—Chrome: StayFocusd ( Restricts the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day. (FREE)


Your Other Devices


— On iOS devices, the Do Not Disturb function works the same as the desktop. Calls and alerts that arrive while locked will be silenced. You can allow calls from certain people/groups, if necessary, and allow repeated calls through for emergencies. This feature is found in your Settings app.

— On Lollipop Android devices, there is a Priority mode that can screen calls, texts, and app notifications when you need quiet writing time. For pre-Lollipop devices, set it to silent mode by pressing and holding the volume-down button until the vibrate icon appears, then press it again. NOTE: This is an all-or-nothing feature, without customization.

— For more customization on Android devices, use an app such as Do Not Disturb This allows more flexibility on how unreachable you want to be.  ru_shupe_image02


Kick It Old School


— Invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. (This is one method I use a lot, helpful for when my girls are arguing in the next room.) You won’t hear your phone buzzing and, if you turn off your network connection, it’s like you’re in a bubble.


— Go outside and write long hand. We could all use a little less time in front of our computer screens (though I’m not sure my penmanship is up to the task).


No matter what method you decide to use, I wish you many hours of productivity!


So, how do you keep the distractions at bay when you’re writing?

Heather Webb joins us on Monday, March 23!




 Award-winning author JOANNA SHUPE has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels. In 2013 she won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical. She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband. When she’s not writing or doing laundry, she can be found online at her website, Facebook, and Twitter. Sign up for Joanna’s newsletter here.

*  *  *  *  *

 Joanna’s first historical romance, THE COURTESAN DUCHESS, releases from Kensington Zebra on March 31, 2015.


 Joanna will give away one advance copy of THE COURTESAN DUCHESS to one of our commenters today!

Release Date: March 31

Release Date: March 31

 How to seduce an estranged husband—and banish debt!—in four wickedly improper, shockingly pleasurable steps

  1. Learn the most intimate secrets of London’s leading courtesan.
  2. Pretend to be a courtesan yourself, using the name Juliet Leighton.
  3. Travel to Venice and locate said husband.
  4. Seduce husband, conceive an heir, and voilà, your future is secure!

For Julia, the Duchess of Colton, such a ruse promises to be foolproof. After all, her husband has not bothered to lay eyes on her in eight years, since their hasty wedding day when she was only sixteen. But what begins as a tempestuous flirtation escalates into full-blown passion—and the feeling is mutual. Could the man the Courtesan Duchess married actually turn out to be the love of her life?

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39 Responses to “Come On, Block the Noise by Joanna Shupe”

  1. Morning Joanna!

    Wow, great list! Can’t wait to try some of them…I’m so easily distra—oh look a squirrel!—cted….=)

    Now if there was an app to distract my cats from sitting on my keyboard while I was trying to write? That’d be worth millions…=)


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | March 20, 2015, 9:59 am
  2. Thanks for the list, Joanna! I could definitely use something. Who knew self control could be downloaded. Nice. Can it place a lock on my refrigerator, too?

    Posted by Emma Kaye | March 20, 2015, 10:48 am
  3. Great tips, Joanna!

    Posted by Jennifer Wilck | March 20, 2015, 10:49 am
  4. Excellent options. I have a new Mac so it’s good to know I have an option to cancel out distractions. At the moment, I have no way to cancel out distractions because I always have the sense that I don’t want to miss out on anything!

    Posted by Diana Quincy | March 20, 2015, 10:50 am
  5. Awesome tips Joanna! I’m going to get a pair of those noise reducing headphones for when my boys are flipping out. Thanks for the links.

    Posted by Nicole Doran | March 20, 2015, 10:58 am
  6. Joanna –

    Thanks for the tips. It is so easy to get sucked into that internet vortex and not find your way back out again.

    I can’t wait for your series to arrive!!!


    Posted by AE jones | March 20, 2015, 11:14 am
  7. There’s also a great (free) program called RescueTime that I use to track time spent on my computer. And apps like Evernote are fantastic for when you can’t get to the computer but have access to your phone. Great list! Trying to work from home with a 6 month old means I’m always trying to find new productivity hacks.

    Posted by A.H. MacKenna | March 20, 2015, 11:25 am
  8. Thanks for the great tips. I find that I typically need a “warm up” to my writing time that usually starts and ends with the shiny internet. Noise canceling headphones have been on my wish list for a few years. I’m sure the fam would see them as a betrayal, but I think it’s time to invest for my sanity!

    Posted by RoseAnn DeFranco | March 20, 2015, 11:29 am
  9. Wow, great tips, Joanna! I see a few I’m ashamed to say I could put to good use. Thanks.

    When I’m working on revisions or brainstorming, I sometimes run a nice hot bath and take pages or a notepad along with me.

    Super lo-tech – but I have to say, it works for me.

    Posted by Barbara White Daille | March 20, 2015, 11:37 am
  10. Great suggestions, Joanna! I think it’s a sign of the times – writers are bombarded with all the noises at home, and we’re also lured by the siren call of the internet. Every time I try to write without access to the internet, I find myself with an urgent need to verify a random fact, to look up the meanings of the names I’ve tentatively chosen for characters or to research the viability of a possible plot twist.

    The one suggestion that won’t work for me is writing longhand. I can barely read my own handwriting, and besides, typing is soooo much faster!

    Thanks so much for joining us today, Joanna! I preordered THE COURTESAN DUCHESS – I’m excited to read it!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 20, 2015, 12:20 pm
    • Thank you so much for having me, Becke!

      I agree about writing longhand. My hand cramps every time I get to page 2. And the internet is very helpful for research. I usually highlight stuff I need to double check later, just so I can keep writing and not lose my momentum.

      I hope you enjoy the book! Thanks again!

      Posted by Joanna Shupe | March 20, 2015, 12:27 pm
      • I SHOULD highlight things and look them up later. My stupid self-editor doesn’t let me do practical things like that. Even when I’m racing through NaNoWriMo I’ll detour to name websites, not just researching names but their meanings. My NaNo partners used fillers like Hero and Heroine, but I’m a bit (a bit??) OCD with names.

        Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 20, 2015, 1:03 pm
  11. I count on Anti-Social for those times when I am struggling with the writing and use Facebook as an avoidance technique. I like it because I can block Facebook but can still get on the internet to do research when I need to. Thanks for all the great options, Joanna!

    Posted by Nancy Herkness | March 20, 2015, 1:17 pm
  12. Great tips, Joanna! I’m so easily distracted by email and social media. It’s quite pathetic. I’m going to start with StayFocused and work my way up your list!

    Can’t wait to read your book!

    Posted by Lark Brennan | March 20, 2015, 2:15 pm
  13. Thanks Joanna – great tips on tuning out. I’m definitely old school – I plug in earphones, ramp up Classical Romance Piano music on Pandora and grab a yellow pad and pen. Forty-five minutes feels like ten. If I have more time to write, I only notice how much time has passed when my writing hand begins to hurt! No matter the individual method, there is tremendous satisfaction in uninterrupted writing time.

    Posted by Chrissie Roach | March 20, 2015, 2:31 pm
  14. Hi Joanna! I am so thrilled to know how easy it is to block those darn popups on my mac! Yayyyy! Thank you!!! I am sure I will try some of the internet and email blockers too. Most of the time I make sure to write on laptop and work and do life/family/bills/social/scheduling on the desktop. Mentally, that helps me know that once I sit down to laptop it’s writing time! But it’s certainly not infallible, and there are times I need to write on desktop…any chance you have a magical app that clears my actual work surface of sticky notes and papers and to-do piles? : )

    Posted by JB Schroeder | March 20, 2015, 3:13 pm
  15. Great ideas here!!! I’m definitely going to have to put a few to use. With a full-time job and kids with busy schedules, I count any writing time as precious! Good luck on the new series!! 🙂

    Posted by Beth-Ann Kerber | March 20, 2015, 3:21 pm
  16. You always have such great advice, Joanna! I don’t have a villa, but I am on a mountain top. Does that count? 🙂

    Posted by Sandra Owens | March 20, 2015, 3:22 pm
  17. Thanks for the list, Joanna! God knows I have enough distractions in my mind without the internet, too! I do have noise-canceling headphones which work great…except when hubby is working in our shared office and he begins talking to himself and pacing in order to work out a problem, lol!

    I can’t wait to read the final version of TCD!

    Posted by Jaye Marie Rome | March 20, 2015, 3:28 pm
  18. Thanks so much for hanging out with us today, Joanna – it looks like you touched on a topic a lot of us can relate to!

    Have a great weekend!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 20, 2015, 9:40 pm
  19. What great suggestions! I never thought of downloading something to my computer to help me stay on task but HAVE to give it a try.

    I love the cover for THE COURTESAN DUCHESS. The book sounds like something I’d really enjoy! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    Posted by Marty Mayberry | March 21, 2015, 9:55 am
  20. great article! fun to see you at NJRW today!

    Posted by Carol Chiao | March 21, 2015, 12:47 pm

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