Sep. 21, 2009

A cabin made of hours

“Like so many of the key skills of the writer’s life, the solution [to being distracted by the Internet] comes down to (groan) self-discipline. I came back resolved to break my habit of checking email and the Web (even to handle essential, chore-like tasks) whenever the urge strikes. I’ve converted to the ‘no email before noon’ productivity cult and save up any web-based activity for after I’ve done the day’s allotted reading and writing.…

“Now that I’m paying more attention to the insidious impulse to ‘take a little break,’ I see that it hits whenever I’m looking at a project that requires full and deep attention. I know that these projects are both more rewarding and more interesting that what people I barely know are posting on Twitter and Facebook, but trivia can be very seductive. Like potato chips, it’s hard to resist once you’ve allowed yourself ‘just a taste.’ You have to build yourself a cabin, not of logs but of hours, and not in the woods, but during some part of every day. And then you have to lock the door.”

Laura Miller, Salon critic who retreated to “the fabled cabin in the woods to think, read and even write a bit,” safe from the maddening presence of “the biggest distractor in my life — the Internet.”