Writing in the Age of Distraction

There is never perfect silence, or happiness. Until my kids have gone to college and are out of the house, I will never get a full weekend of unbroken time to concentrate on writing (or reading, or coding, or whatever). I used to be able to bang out a blog entry or mark a few papers while the kids were watching Elmo. Now, the kids simply won’t stand for my partial attention… Their choice of watching Buck Rogers last night was their attempt to make sure I didn’t spend the evening marking papers. How can we make the most use of the bits and pieces of time that fall our way?

Every now and again, when I see a new website, game, or service, I sense the tug of an attention black hole: a time-sink that is just waiting to fill my every discretionary moment with distraction. As a co-parenting new father who writes at least a book per year, half-a-dozen columns a month, ten or more blog posts a day, plus assorted novellas and stories and speeches, I know just how short time can be and how dangerous distraction is.
But the Internet has been very good to me. It’s informed my creativity and aesthetics, it’s benefited me professionally and personally, and for every moment it steals, it gives back a hundred delights. I’d no sooner give it up than I’d give up fiction or any other pleasurable vice.
I think I’ve managed to balance things out through a few simple techniques that I’ve been refining for years. I still sometimes feel frazzled and info-whelmed, but that’s rare. Most of the time, I’m on top of my workload and my muse. Here’s how I do it:
Cory Doctorow