Thursday, December 11, 2008

Writing in the 21st century

There's a really good reason I love to write on an airplane. It's because there's nothing else to do.

Yup. I love airplane writing, motel writing, retreat writing. I love all venues where there's no internet, no telephone, no dog needing a walk, no yoga class to take, and no housework niggling at me. It's no wonder, to me, that there are people who never read books. There are so many other things to do!

I grew up on a ranch in Montana where we had no television, barely had radio, and had a party line telephone. I used to read for hours when the chores had been done, immersing myself utterly in whatever book it was, no matter the genre, the length, or the challenge of the text. Now I have trouble focusing for even an hour without something diluting my attention.

I have a new method for getting "in the zone" to write. TV off, of course. Music off, because for me, a musician, music is a great distraction. Telephone close at hand so I can hear the Caller ID without having to get up, and ignore 99% of the phone calls that come in. A fire is nice, because it crackles, but it doesn't demand that I do anything. Internet, especially, OFF. I try to sit someplace that feels relaxing, as if I'm indulging myself, and I tell myself that for at least one solid hour, I'll do nothing but move forward on the work-in-progress.

So far, so good. I have to organize my day, though, to win this hour of peace, especially at this time of year. I have to plan--walk the dog, do the Long Ridge lessons, answer my emails--and then ignore the housework (hard for a compulsive neatnik). I don't know if it's enough, but I'm hoping once the holidays are over I'll look back and realize that I got a lot done, despite the hectic season.

I may need a new approach in 2009, but this is working for now.


Ori Pomerantz said...

I am precisely the reverse. The only way I can focus on a task is by having five other windows open, and doing five other things at the same time. Otherwise I find my mind looks for its own distractions.

Pati Nagle said...

Getting away from the Internet has improved my writing output immensely. I write on a separate computer that does not connect to the Web, thank you. No more "I'll just look up this one thing" or "I'll just check my email" procrastination.

Louise Marley said...

Yes, I love that little button that turns off the wireless internet. It was a huge disappointment to me when the Rainforest Village, where we have a lovely writers' retreat in the early spring, brought in wireless internet! I think they were trying to help, but it wasn't my favorite improvement.