Writing Wednesday: Bad Advice From (Supposedly) Good Writers
Hooray, I can thank Roger Ebert for providing me with fodder for another post. Only this one’s not about movies. It was April 25 when he Tweeted (or reTweeted) Zadie Smith’s advice that you shouldn’t have your computer hooked up to the Internet when you type.
My reaction: “Oh, puh-leeze.”
Look, I write on a NETbook. My apartment has Wifi, as does Panera Bread and Starbucks, where I do most of my writing–at least when the weather is cold or crummy–and most libraries have it now too. Even McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, and other fast food places have Wifi. So basically wherever I go, my computer is hooked up to the Internet. Does that mean I don’t write anything? Fuck no. Just the opposite last year.
The only time I get distracted by the Internet on the computer is when I’m tired and just really don’t feel like writing in the first place. That’s my point here: writers write. When I really want to write it doesn’t matter if I’m writing at Starbucks or in a subway station (if we had such things in metro Detroit) I’m going to get some writing done if that’s what I want to do.
Point #2: distractions are everywhere! Even if it’s not the Internet, I can get distracted by neighbors stomping around upstairs, loud people at the Starbucks, interesting bird out the window, or even a spot on the wall. But again, these distractions only occur when I’m not that focused on writing, or when I’m at a point where I need to stop and think.
Of course it would be easy to sneer and say, “Well yeah but you’re a nobody and Zadie Smith is somebody.” (Though for the record I thought White Teeth sucked.) That doesn’t mean everything she says is great advice. Just because a writer is published doesn’t instantly make everything they say gospel.
The important thing to remember is that when writers give advice, they’re saying what works for them. That might not work for YOU. So take it with a grain of salt. Try it if you want and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, don’t think you’re doing something wrong; you’re just not Zadie Smith, which I would say is a good thing. Ebert would probably disagree.
Just for Briane Pagel, I’m going to make a Star Wars reference. Remember in the prequels Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson in the first one) decided that Anakin must be the Chosen One and should become a Jedi. How did that turn out? Not so good. So even Jedi Masters can be wrong. (Though if you want to get into a nerdy argument you can say it worked out in the long run…after millions of people, clones, and droids were killed and enslaved.)
Friday I lament the sorry state of movies today…