Writing 101: Unplugging

Once upon a time, I imagine, writers sat in quiet little rooms with quill pens and scribbled away with real ink. By the light of a flickering candle, one assumes, the likes of Louisa Mae Alcott crafted Little Women and Jane Austen worked on Pride and Prejudice. Nowadays, most writers type on fancy electronic devices and interact directly with fans through Twitter. And apparently, lots of modern authors think it's very hard to craft stories in this fashion. I've seen it, time and time again, where famous authors advise that you unplug the Internet before you write. And I think this is the most ridiculous writing tip I have ever read...and I've read a lot of them. 

Unplug? Maybe You Haven't Heard of WiFi

For starters, do you even know how to disconnect your Internet? What kind of crazy archaic machines are these writers using to write their stories in the first place, and am I really supposed to believe that a Stephen King type has a computer so old he has to physically connect it to the Internet? I wasn't born yesterday, after all.

And I wasn't born in 1827. Maybe Stephen King sits and writes in a room that has a full library of reference materials, and he actually flips pages to find information when he's researching. But I live in a modern era where I don't have to open a dusty encyclopedia to learn about the breeding habits of pigs. I can just ask Google. 

Unless I try to follow someone's weird writing tips and disconnect my laptop from the Internet, that is. Because I don't know about you, but there's lots of times when I have to stop writing in order to get some research done. While I was writing the Deck of Lies series, for example, I stopped often to consult my map because I don't have a photographic memory. Because I'm a modern girl, I didn't sit down at a drafting table and draw my own map and I didn't pull out a gigantic paper atlas to look at street names. I just used the Internet. Google even lets you create and save your own maps. I added markers to mine to show various locations that my characters visited. 

If you have so much trouble focusing on writing that you actually have to unplug your Internet (which is now a euphemism for turn off your wifi), maybe the Internet isn't really the problem. There's always some sort of a distraction, because the reality is you can't lock yourself in a dark and quiet little room. The world is going to burst into it. If your house is anything like mine, the world is going to burst at least once every 30 minutes. You have to figure out how to maintain focus no matter what might be out there trying to pull you away from the keyboard, whether it's Twitter or a phone ringing off the hook. 

Disconnecting the Internet is only going to slow you down when you have to do some research on the fly, maybe look up a new name or try to get fashion ideas for characters (what...you don't do that?). So I say unplugging is a totally bogus idea that's not really going to work. If you're that easily distracted, you're just going to pick up your phone and screw around with it to get to Twitter (I've been there too many times). It's a modern era. Like all the authors who came before, you are a product of the times. So learn how to work with all the tools at your disposal...or in spite of them.

[+/-] Show Full Post...


Post a Comment