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The last couple of weeks have all been about writing and publishing etc, but there is something that is so at the core of writing that I almost forgot about it: the fact that you actually have to write.
It is great to have brilliant ideas of a comic short story or an intellectual drama or something, but if you fail to actually sit down and write it, what will happen? In my experience you will forget all about the story or misplace that all important note you made a few months ago. In the old days writers had studies or places they could go where they could just write. Hemingway (apologies for always talking about Hemingway) had a little flat in Paris, away from his own living space where he would go in the day to write, away from everything. I don’t have that. I have a notebook, a laptop and worst of all, an Internet connection.
The latter is the most detrimental influence on my life of writing. When I sit down to my laptop to type up a story I invariably get lost in the Internet. I’ll look up a word or check a spelling and then ten minutes later I’m searching eBay for my girlfriend’s birthday present that isn’t for another ten months. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Internet because as you all know there are so many interesting things to read about, videos of cats to watch and shops to peruse from your very comfortable sofa. The Internet is amazing. Unfortunately the Internet is far too much of a draw for a procrastinator like myself.
A few posts ago I told you about my writing habits during my time in Cambridge, well that level of discipline is almost impossible to maintain in every day life. See, now I have a job and bills to pay and blogs to write and books to read and stories to write and friends to see and it goes on and on and on. So when I sit down to write now I have all these things in the back of my head craving some attention and, when I’m using the very same machine for most of these tasks, it becomes very difficult to maintain control of your disciplined inner-self.
I have heard of a program that can disable your Internet access for pre-set periods of time, I have heard of people going to write in coffee shops and I have heard of people allowing themselves structured breaks for controlled procrastination, so what do you do to avoid distraction/procrastination? When I really need to get something written, I use my typewriter.
Alex writes short stories and occasionally things a little bit longer. He has had fiction published in places like Wilderness House LIterary Review, Metazen and Spectre Magazine and has a story in the National Flash Fiction Day anthology Jawbreakers. He is currently working on a collection of stories, a novella and his blog at alexthornber.wordpress.com.