After reading Therese and Porter’s posts on the digital world and its effects on our thinking and productivity, I’ve been thinking a lot on the subject. How does all of this affect my life, my creativity?
Confession: despite my reputation as a flighty Gemini, I am not a multitasker. It’s precisely because of my scatteredness that I can’t be—I must focus on one task at a time or I lose things, break them, get lost in the Shiny Everything. In college, after losing my keys for the 400th time and having to call someone to be rescued, a friend said, “You need routines.”
Turned out, he was right. As a very scattered, always-thinking, always dreaming creative type, the only thing that makes it possible for me to manage life is to keep a set of pretty rigid routines. That means one thing at a time. I cook when I cook—if I try to do anything else with it (apart from listening to music), I will burn everything. I can’t walk away. If I walk my dog, I walk my dog. I don’t listen to music or podcasts. We just….walk. The notifications on my social media and email are turned off and I check one thing at a time. If I am going to write, I don’t open my web browser, and on distractable days, I use Freedom to lock myself out. I’m still reading an average of five or six novels a month, sometimes more, and I do read on an iPad, so the Internet is there. The one exception is if I watch TV, I might have my iPad open and flip around, but that’s down time and I feel it’s okay to not really focus on anything.
This is not to demonstrate my superior skills of concentration. It’s just that I didn’t realize I don’t multitask at all and that seemed so weird in the modern world that I had to give it some thought.
So I don’t multitask, but I am still absolutely, completely immersed in the modern world. I love technology, connectedness, social media, and access to everything I want, when I want it, now.
Last night, Christopher Robin said that he’d never seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and he might like it. Since it has become my favorite movie (and our cross-over points for fiction of any kind are very small), I was delighted, so we settled in to find it. We looked through On Demand. It wasn’t available as a rental, only a $16 purchase. Tried NetFlix, and Amazon Prime, ditto. Not available yet. Undaunted, he tried iTunes and there it was, so we pulled it up and settled in to watch. Now apart from the
slightly bloated size of our entertainment budget, it is kind of miraculous that this is possible. I don’t have to go anywhere. Whatever I want is right there, at the end of a mouse or a remote.
The thing a writer who is focused on the long game will do at that moment is….wait for it….write the next book.
If I want to talk to one of my sons, I can text them or check out their Facebook profiles, send an email, even just call. If I want cat litter or shoes or art supplies, I pull up the appropriate screen, tap in my numbers, and it will arrive at my door in a day or two. If I want to read and don’t like what I have around the house (hard as that is to believe, given the towering piles of reading that await), all I have to do is go find another one online in two seconds
This extends to nearly every arena of life. If I want to find out about a city, I check out Google Earth. I can see the street my hotel is on , and get a 360 degree view of it. I can travel with some clicking, find a cab, a restaurant, a movie, reservations, tickets, artists. I can research almost anything, in great detail, from my armchair.
Everything. Instantly. The Shiny Everything is right in front of me at all times. [Read more…]