Friday, April 27, 2007

When I write

One of the things I do most is write. I'm not talking about emails and IMs, I mean documents that go to an audience of people I know and people I don't know. Most of these documents are technical whitepapers, but sometimes they're instructions or editorials that have to do with the industry in which I work, and usually they're done on a deadline. I've learned one thing about myself—being connected to the internet runs at odds with my ability to write effectively. You too? I'm not surprised.

I was reading this blog by Cyrus Farivar (the one about the live octopus tentacles) who apparently writes for a living. My favorite part of his blog is the subtitle: “Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.” I get distracted.

My solution is not so much by design as by necessity. I work tens of miles away from my office in San Francisco, and I ride BART to work every day. I don't attempt to connect to the internet via wifi while I'm riding, so I have about 45 minutes of "dead time" to kill. That's when I write. If you look at my writing velocity, I'm sure you would see it spike during those two periods of the day when I'm on the road. Even when I'm at home, after dinner when the kids go to bed, my writing effeciency lags behind those chunks of commute time during the day.

Sometimes people ask me how I've been able to handle such a long commute for so many years. I think if I had a shorter commute, it might be career limiting.
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