As an author trying to complete a third book, I have to admit that one of the hardest things this time around has been avoiding digital distractions like: Facebook, Twitter, IM, Email, Angry Birds, DVR’d Shows, Skype, etc, etc, etc.
Chances are you may have seen the following cartoon image of a man sitting in front of a typewriter trying to finish a research paper. A short distance away from him is THE INTERNET with its bright lights, a girl in a bikini, dinosaur, two fighter jets and a birthday cake. The image highlights an experience many of us have felt at one time or the other when trying to write – namely, the Internet’s ability to be highly distracting and totally awesome!
There is currently a great deal of debate on the impact the Internet has on our ability to focus, with authors like Nicholas Carr and Cathy N. Davidson offering different perspectives on the issue. Whether the Internet is truly making it harder for us to concentrate on a single task is arguable. I can say, however, that I’ve wasted plenty of hours on the Internet while trying to “write.”
So what is an author to do when the multitude of distractions constantly “lurks behind your screen, one alt-tab away from your word-processor?” Blogger, journalist, and Lulu author Cory Doctorow addresses this question in a column for LOCUS online entitled “Writing in the Age of Distraction.” As a prolific writer whose job dictates almost constant access to the web, Doctorow outlines techniques he’s used for years to help manage one’s need to access the Internet while having to write. I highly recommend Doctorow’s column to anyone who has felt distracted while trying to write.
Doctorow’s full column can be viewed here.