The Problem Is You

Colson Whitehead on writers who blame the internet for their sorry work ethic:

I'm probably more versed in why writers aren't on Twitter, as they constantly share their reasons without prompting. Like, they're reluctant to waste material they might use in their work. Seems reasonable. Every Chia pet non sequitur I tweet, every anecdote about my time on the international Segway racing circuit and quote from Cookie Puss's memoir, the more my novel about a Chia-American Segway racer who moonlights as an affordable ice cream cake suffers. 

The doubters ask, how do you get any work done if you're RTing and LOLing all day, which is also fair, introducing the topic of Internet distraction in general. We've all read interviews where the author moans, "I'd never have finished my opus if I hadn't rented out serial killer Joel Rifkin's old hostage pit." Not only did this cinderblock retreat lack Wi-Fi, we learn it was also soundproof and windowless, a Lecterian Yaddo. 

I say, yes, you can rent out a hostage pit. You can also close your browser. It's called willpower. If you can't muster the will to lay off Gawker, how are you going to write a book? I can't blame modern technology for my predilection for distraction, not after all the hours I've spent watching lost balloons disappear into the clouds. I did it before the Internet, and I'll do it after the apocalypse, assuming we still have helium and weak-gripped children.

OK, so maybe I was a little harsh. Surely there are people out there who simply can't be on twitter and finish a book. I respect it, but I can't really relate. It's not that I don't get distracted -- but I've been distracted all my life, I don't know that twitter has made it worse.

In the main, when it's time to work, I generally, just go work. I'm simply not fit for any sort of other real labor short of pizza delivery. Besides, I really enjoy seeing the thing done. It's actually pleasurable.