I was productive this morning, cranking out about 1500 words in the span of a couple of hours without much in the way of distractions. It was a timely day to be productive, and the morning's activity resulted in a further productive afternoon meeting. It was a good day. (Not every day is always a good day for writing.)
How do I get away from distractions? The key was to find an unusual place in this world: a location with good enough coffee, enough power outlets, broken wifi and no cell service. (It was the Scio Township Panera, if you're wondering.) The lack of T-Mobile service, and the downtime on the Panera wifi, meant that I could easily ignore the dozens of email messages that I might answer and the infinite stream of things to read online and instead open up a terminal window, open up vim, and start typing until the screen filled up and then some.
The problem with unreliable networks is that you have to work extra hard to get any value out of them, enough to distract you entirely from their use. When the Internet is completely down, though, it's much easier. I have good enough writing tools to create prose without an Internet necessary for looking things up, and the notes I was working from were all on paper. Any research I needed to do during the course of the writing got marked with an XXX, and when the Panera wifi came back online, I was able to fill in a few gaps.
It takes either a little bit of good luck or a great deal of self discipline to go off the net. Modern computing systems assume that always-on is the normal case, and that offline behavior is anomalous. Indeed there are systems like the Chromebook that are completely crippled without a network there to make them happy, but no one I know sells a laptop that doesn't have wifi built in.