Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cory Doctorow: Writing in the Age of Distraction

Some great advice from Cory Doctorow on writing. In fact, I think this could easily be title Working in the Age of Distraction. I've only included the bullets in the article, so click through to read the full text of Doctorow's advice.

Cory Doctorow: Writing in the Age of Distraction

We know that our readers are distracted and sometimes even overwhelmed by the myriad distractions that lie one click away on the Internet, but of course writers face the same glorious problem: the delirious world of information and communication and community that lurks behind your screen, one alt-tab away from your word-processor.

The single worst piece of writing advice I ever got was to stay away from the Internet because it would only waste my time and wouldn't help my writing. This advice was wrong creatively, professionally, artistically, and personally, but I know where the writer who doled it out was coming from. Every now and again, when I see a new website, game, or service, I sense the tug of an attention black hole: a time-sink that is just waiting to fill my every discretionary moment with distraction. As a co-parenting new father who writes at least a book per year, half-a-dozen columns a month, ten or more blog posts a day, plus assorted novellas and stories and speeches, I know just how short time can be and how dangerous distraction is.

But the Internet has been very good to me. It's informed my creativity and aesthetics, it's benefited me professionally and personally, and for every moment it steals, it gives back a hundred delights. I'd no sooner give it up than I'd give up fiction or any other pleasurable vice.

I think I've managed to balance things out through a few simple techniques that I've been refining for years. I still sometimes feel frazzled and info-whelmed, but that's rare. Most of the time, I'm on top of my workload and my muse. Here's how I do it:

  • Short, regular work schedule
  • Leave yourself a rough edge
  • Don't research
  • Don't be ceremonious
  • Kill your word-processor
  • Realtime communications tools are deadly

I don't claim to have invented these techniques, but they're the ones that have made the 21st century a good one for me.

(Via Lifehacker.)

1 comment:

Radical Selfie said...

This definitely helped! I'm so glad I stumbled upon this post. I'm going to start the "short, regular work schedule" portion bright and, definitely bright tomorrow (not early, it's gonna be late night tonight). Thanks for sharing!


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