On The Importance of Going OFF the Internet

Going off the Internet seems a radical act, but for most people it's essential for creativity. The Internet is inherently and continuously interruptive, and that's not a good mix with creative work, or productivity in general. In classes, I quote Jonathan Franzen (“It’s doubtful that anyone with an Internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.”) and other famous writers on the importance of disconnecting. Then I urge students to disconnect by having two computers: a stripped down, "vanilla" one without any Internet connectivity, games, or other distractions. That's the one you write on. And, a "normal" computer where you do all your other work Alternatively, you could use a non-WiFi-enabled computer, and only connect to the Internet intermittently via a cable located far from your writing desk. You can do this even if the rest of your household uses WiFi simply by not saving the WiFi password in your computer. I did that for years--I had no idea what the household WiFi password … [Read more...]

Terrible Article in Salon Romanticizes “The Suffering Artist”

It actually promotes self-loathing as a productivity strategy! My comment: Sorry, this is the kind of grandiose macho posturing bunk that holds many writers back. Writing, absent perfectionism, is not that hard. And true self-loathing (as opposed to facile expressions of it) is far more likely to lead to a block than anything. There are plenty of examples of successful writers who write from places of ease and joy--and perhaps most successful writers do. For examples, see Stephen King from On Writing, Trollope from his Autobiography, Jane Yolen's Take Joy, and my own The 7 Secrets of the Prolific. What this article promotes is actually a romanticization of suffering, and that's a very immature viewpoint. I actually find quotes about how awful writing and the writing life are to be not just perfectionist, but self-indulgent. No one's forcing anyone to write, and writing happens to be a great way to spend one's time, not to mention earn one's living. Beyond all that, all worthwhile endeavors require … [Read more...]