“Writers are often asked, ‘How do you write? With a word processor? An electric typewriter? A quill? Longhand?’ But the essential question is, ‘Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?’ Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas — inspiration.”
What wonderful wisdom there is in these words! What could be more important to us as writers than cultivating the inner space we need to create? And yet every day, it seems harder and harder to find the time and quiet we need just to be alone with our thoughts and dreams, to let them percolate and boil over into our brains until we feel absolutely compelled to get them out of our heads and onto the page.
Writing is by nature a very solitary pursuit, but we humans are social animals. It’s not surprising, then, that as scrivening scribes, we often find ourselves entranced with Twitter, Facebook, and the Internet– all of which offer instant connectivity and are tailor-made to induce the heady feeling that we’re part of the social mainstream rather than hanging around at its edges.
But more and more people seem to be finding that all this buzzing and snapping is becoming a bit too distracting — and addictive. I just read recently that some writers (Zadie Smith, for instance), are now working on Internet-disabled computers so they literally can’t stop in mid-sentence to check their email! I’ve also heard that some people are declaring an “Internet Sabbath” and refraining from going on line on weekends.
All this makes me wonder whether Herman Melville would have ever written Moby Dick if he’d had access to the Internet. Maybe he would have just booked a flight via Kayak to Florida and gone swimming with the dolphins. What do you think?