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Goodness, these blog posts are now so infrequent that I am amazed to have any readers left at all!  But please do stick with me: my day job is taking most of my energy at the moment and any writing time I can carve out is being used on “Plank 7” rather than this blog, but rest assured that I am writing slowly and surely in the background.  With my plans to “retreat at home” over the summer, I am quietly confident of hitting my planned publication date of 3 December 2021 – so remember to buy “Plank 7” for everyone for Christmas!

My big news today is that I have discovered a marvellous writing tool.  When I am writing, I will often dart off to check facts – when did the term “big cheese” come into use? what sort of market was in Brick Lane in the 1820s? – and these lead me onto other websites, and before I know it I’ve spent an hour on vaguely related reading and not written a word.  I kid myself that it’s all helping, that I’m filling in the background so that I can write with more authority – but if I’m not actually writing, well, that’s just an excuse.  And then I read about browser blockers.  You can buy them with all sorts of bells and whistles, but there is also a perfectly adequate free one called LeechBlock (so called because it blocks those sites that leech your productive time).  You download an extension to your browser and then set the sites you want it to block, and for how long.  You can be ferocious (blocking everything by using *.com) or select your sites of greatest browsing weakness…. And when you tootle off to those sites during the blocked hours, you get a splash screen saying “The page you’re trying to access has been blocked by LeechBlock”.  I’ve been using it only for a couple of days, and my word count has shot up.  As always, of course, there’s no guarantee that what I’m writing is any good, but – my constant mantra – you can always edit something, but you can’t edit nothing.