Cory Doctorow, well known scribe of and author of critically acclaimed YA novel, Little Brother, has a fantastic article about how, even as someone intrinsically tied to the distraction riddled Internet, he has found little ways to make sure his productivity doesn’t drop in lieu of browsing the web, juggling family and friends, or just getting bored.

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. This advice was wrong creatively, professionally, artistically, and personally, but I know where the writer who doled it out was coming from.

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.

I think I’ve managed to balance things out through a few simple techniques that I’ve been refining for years.

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.

When you hit your daily word-goal, stop.

When you come to a factual matter that you could google in a matter of seconds, don’t.

Forget advice about finding the right atmosphere to coax your muse into the room. Forget candles, music, silence, a good chair, a cigarette, or putting the kids to sleep.

Word, Google Office and OpenOffice all come with a bewildering array of typesetting and automation settings that you can play with forever. Forget it.

The biggest impediment to concentration is your computer’s ecosystem of interruption technologies: IM, email alerts, RSS alerts, Skype rings, etc.

Some of his advice might seem crazy (stop mid-sentence? don’t research?) , but when I can’t help but feel he’s right on the money when he explains why you should cut yourself off, even when you’re on a roll, or why the length of the Brooklyn Bridge doesn’t matter when you’re writing a scene about it. His advice might not work for every writer, but he’s certainly someone worth listening to.

You can read the whole article HERE.

  • Mark January 22, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Man, I needed that advice. The internet is evil for distractions.