I am currently reading Stephen King’s On Writing and basically hanging on his every word. Some moments when he is sharing the specifics of the work ethic that has marked his famously prolific career, I am proud that I have adhered to his suggestions without even knowing it. For instance, ever since I started writing books, I was willing to take notes and comments from readers I respected, and use them to make the work better. Secondly, I felt that the first draft was sacred ground, like a place you have to go to all by yourself before you are ready to ‘let others in.’ Lastly, I love the way he remarks on people saying snarky things to him about writing popular literature, as if it is somehow a ‘lesser’ art form if a lot of people read it. King certainly has earned the right to thumb his nose at the pretentious posers of the lit world. I have had people, especially family members, say similar things to me about writing for the Young Adult market.
But while many of his suggestions have validated my own writing practices, one King assertion is decidedly uncomfortable for me to hear. Turn off the TV, he says. If you are a serious writer you do not have time to squander sitting in front of a ‘glass box.’ Okay, I am thinking, I can handle that. If you are going to churn out 6,000 words a week as he proposes, obviously something has to go. And I can give up TV without much angst. But a darker revelation lurked beneath his words.
On Writing was published in 2000, when the internet was, compared to today, in its infancy. I don’t think I have to tell you this unrefutable truth: today’s internet is a much more daunting time sucker than the glass box ever was. So out of enormous respect and gratitude for his brilliant, tough-love advice on how to be a prolific and adverb-free writer, I must add my own personal addendum to his TV suggestion:
NO INTERNET DURING YOUR WRITING TIME. If you are to turn out 1,000 words a day, 6 days a week (or even my modified version, 500 words a day, 5 days a week), you do not have time for Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, ichat, e-commerce, or any digital noodling other than RESEARCH FOR THE BOOK.
*Phew*, there, I’ve said it. Love it or hate it, that is my key to producing pages in this distraction-riddled world. My new credo is try to write in a place where I cannot log on to the internet, so that I will not risk being swept up into a cyber world and look up having lost hours of all-too-precious writing time.
And with that, faithful readers, I will sign off…