In the so-called golden age of the novel, the writer had little more than his pen and ink fountain to foster procrastination… yet I wonder how much time many a great author spent searching for the right pen tip, making sure the ink was of the proper consistency, and fiddling with that stack of blank paper. Ahh, such simplicity. Today most scribblers work on a contraption that comes packed with not only a myriad of card games, but also the lure of stock quotes and and video snippets and blog tirades and shopping (for reference books, of course).
No more, I say. Today I’ve taken drastic steps to block such frivolities. The laptop, where I’m composing this right now, will remain attached to all such temptation, but my desktop–where the fiction writing happens–will become a temple that harkens back to less distracting times.
First, I yanked out the shiny blue cord that connects the machine to the internet. It shall from this day forward be a closed box, doomed to never again update its browsers or patch its operating system. It’s a geriatric PC, nearly seven years old, and already barely able to run much more than Word 2000, so it’s time to turn the old boy into a glorified typewriter. One can only imagine what else Dickens, Dostoyevsky, or Tolstoy may have left all of us if they had possessed such a glorious, yet lonely device.
Second, and this is where things get frightening, I deleted solitaire. Yowza! My writing machine at one time had a multitude of games on it, but one by one they’ve been whacked. In days gone by, there was a version of solitaire that showed how much time I had been spent playing it each time I closed out of it–like the alarm clock, a truly horrendous idea. That got deleted once it stated I had spent a solid month at solitaire, only to soon be replaced by a much simpler, and far more polite version. Today, this lone game holdout is gone.
In a few weeks if the words aren’t pouring onto the page, I’m prepared for one, even more drastic step. I shall withhold coffee. I forget where I got this tip, but a well known author had a firm rule of no coffee until 100 words are down on the page. I write in the mornings, early in the mornings, and coffee is essential. Words, my boy, I want words!