“To do two things at once is to do neither.” Publilius Syrus
Last year, there was a lot of buzz on the web and the blogosphere about Nicholas Carr's book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.
Frank Bures has a terrific article in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Poets & Writers, “Inner Space: Clearing Some Room for Inspiration.” Bures walks us through, once again and many of us need repetition before important things sink in, the dangers of trying to write while online. Like Zadie Smith and Jonathan Franzen, mentioned in Bures's essay, I write on an old laptop that I don't connect to the web. That's not to say I never lose my way in the dreaded websucker — I do.
Bures covered some old, but new to me, information from psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. In that book, five stages of creativity are presented: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation and elaboration. And, the four major obstacles that keep people from creative accomplishment are listed by Csikszentmihalyi as psychic exhaustion, easy distraction, inability to protect/channel creative energy, and not knowing what to do with that energy.
Some of you may have the good fortune, like me, of having an extra computer around that can be disconnected from the web. And, some of you, unlike me, might be able to control yourself and never log on while writing when you're at a connected terminal. But, for the rest of you, I was tickled to see that Bures has found a solution. He recommends “an elegant application named for precisely the thing that I (he) lacked.” SelfControl.
I haven't tried it, but if you're looking for some help unplugging from the web, maybe give it a try. Any other methods you use to keep your attention focused on one thing at a time, especially when writing?