Articles tagged "Digital Distractions"

How do you write?

Photo credit to @jjpacres on Flickr.

During an author interview, have you ever been asked about how you write? Do you type on a computer, use longhand, record your own voice…? This question is asked so frequently that it’s become cliché, but it does raise an interesting point: does varying your writing process add variety to your writing itself?

Writing on a mobile phone or tablet offers the portability of a pen and notebook, while also allowing writers to use the resources of the Internet or even incorporate pictures. How can a description of a city scene be enhanced by a picture of that exact scene? Should it? Tablet writers must deal with the endless possibilities technology offers – possibilities which could distract from the work itself. As the celebrated young author Wells Tower said in an interview with the Huffington Post, “My main gripe with the Web is that it’s toxic to the kind of concentration fiction writing requires. It’s difficult to write good sentences and simultaneously buy shoes.” Perhaps writers who are less focused on the Internet, and more focused on the crafting of fine sentences write better, and maybe the way they write makes all the difference.

Personally, I need to shut off the Internet if I’d like to get any writing done. There are far too many distractions on the Internet to waste the precious time I find to write. But I also appreciate the new possibilities that technology has availed us to, including the ability to write interactively, using the Internet to enhance your perception of a scene, or even allow you to incorporate technology into your writing. While writing on a cellphone or tablet is a far cry from a notebook, it does not seem like writing has changed fundamentally because of their invention. If anything, the introduction of technology into my writing practice allows my writing to be more experimental, more informed, and more current.

How has how you write affected what you write?

Author Tips: Avoiding Digital Distractions

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.