Writing Advice: Disconnect

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Writing is a practice that invites distraction. I know there are many times I’ve sat down in front of my computer and suddenly realized a zillion things I could be doing rather than laboring over the blank page in front of me. When you’re faced with a new writing project, it can be easy to find diversions that stop you from even getting started. I think that because writing is so time-consuming and takes a lot of brain power, our brains just instinctively want to get out of it. We know that there are things to be done elsewhere — laundry to be folded, rooms to be vacuumed, school work to be finished.

There is also, of course, fear involved in the act of writing that can drive us to distraction. Beginning a project can be scary because we don’t know how it will end up, so it’s simply easier to avoid it. With all of these natural distractions that can stop us from writing, we really don’t need another one, do we? But the world has provided us with the perfect distraction tool: the internet. Facebook feeds must be checked, tweets need to be added to Twitter, and the endless black hole that is one’s Tumblr dashboard must be scrolled through. These artificial duties that we create for ourselves online can keep us from writing for days. I know I’ve had days where the hours seem to slip past me and it’s already time for bed when I find that I haven’t done any writing.

This is where today’s advice comes in. This bit of wisdom comes from author Zadie Smith courtesy of a Brainpickings post that highlighted her 10 Rules of Writing. It’s some very simple advice and it simply says, “Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­internet.”

That’s it. Non-negotiable. Disconnect from the internet and just write. If you can’t disconnect from the internet, gather up a notebook and pen and do some writing the old-fashioned way away from all of your electronic clutter. Get away from those Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr demands and get some writing done. Give it a try this week, just disconnect.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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