Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow: Writing in the Age of Distraction

When I’m working on a story or novel, I set a modest daily goal — usually a page or two — and then I meet it every day, doing nothing else while I’m working on it. It’s not plausible or desirable to try to get the world to go away for hours at a time, but it’s entirely possible to make it all shut up for twenty minutes. Writing a page every day gets me more than a novel per year — do the math — and there’s always twenty minutes to be found in a day, no matter what else is going on. Twenty minutes is a short enough interval that it can be claimed from a sleep or meal-break (though this shouldn’t become a habit). The secret is to do it every day, weekends included, to keep the momentum going, and to allow your thoughts to wander to your next day’s page between sessions. Try to find one or two vivid sensory details to work into the next page, or a bon mot, so that you’ve already got some material when you sit down at the keyboard.

— Cory Doctorow, “Writing in the Age of Distraction

Writer’s Room: Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow at his desk.

(Photo by Jonathan Worth. An annotated version of this image is available on Flickr here. Creative Commons.)

Categories: Writers · Writing    Tags: ·

Writing in the Age of Distraction

I’ve said here that the internet is lethal to book-writing. And to me, it is. But since the internet is not going away, we writers had better learn to manage it. Cory Doctorow is one writer who seems to have figured out how. Somehow I missed this great piece by Doctorow on Writing in the Age of Distraction.

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.… 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.

Doctorow offers six techniques for getting your work done without quitting the internet cold-turkey. It’s worth a read for any web-frazzled writer — myself very much included.

Categories: Creativity · Internet · Productivity · Writing    Tags: ·