The internet, while providing convenience and expanded communication, is also, often, a huge time-sucker. When the daunting task of finishing a report, other missive, or that great American novel presents itself even the least adept procrastinator can waste hours in cyber-distraction.
Cory Doctorow is co-editor of hip Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things. He has written an article for Locus Magazine, Writing in the Age of Distraction. According to Doctorow, however, avoiding or abstaining from the internet is not the answer, saying that ” he 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.”
Instead, Doctorow provides five tips for writing past distraction:
- First, create a short, regular work schedule.
- Stop when you reach your (short) daily goal. Leaving yourself what Doctorow terms a “rough edge” will give you something to grab and pull from the next time you sit down.
- Don’t (stop to) research as stopping to google whatever fact you need will lead to general surfing, overall distraction, and a complete break to your flow. Instead Doctorow recommends typing “TK” where your fact should go. “TK” appears in very few English words so a document search will quickly point out your points of further research.
- Forget pomp and ceremony. You don’t need three white candles at your desk to find productivity. Stick to number 1 and that is all the consistency to spur productivity.
- Turn off the IM. This and other similar programs require immediate attention, and therefore create immediate distraction. Turn ’em all off!