Writing: Desired Distraction [en]

[fr] Quand j'écris, j'ai besoin de m'interrompre, écrire un bout, repartir, revenir... De temps en temps je suis "avalée" par le processus d'écriture pendant un bon bout de temps, mais la plupart du temps le processus est bien plus fragmenté. Dès que les mots cessent de couler de mon clavier, je file vite quelques minutes faire autre chose. Je pense que mon cerveau travaille en tâche de fond pour préparer ce que je vais dire ensuite.

A topic I’m very sensitive to is multi-tasking. I stand somewhere in between the multitasking fanatics and those who point to it as the worst evil computers have brought us.

I’m very much aware of the benefits of the flow state, and how interruptions (what multitasking is all about) jerk you out of it. I’m convinced, though, that smooth and steady multitasking can in itself be an activity which can bring about a flow state (guess this would have to be demonstrated).

There are a certain number of things I have done to decrease interruptions in my daily activities: turn off e-mail (and other) notifications to almost nothing, put GMail in a different application than my browser, for example.

One activity during which I realised that I actively multitasked is when I’m writing. I write a bit, chat a bit, write a bit, fool around on the web a bit, write a bit, e-mail a bit… Every now and again I get sucked up and write-write-write, diving deep into it and coming out an hour later, but most of the time my writing process is more fragmented.

I realized that my brain needs the “off-time” between spurts of writing. Probably while I’m chatting or looking at my e-mail, my brain is preparing what I’ll write next in the background. When the words stop flowing to my fingers, I don’t stop and think hard to try to figure out what to say. I head out and come back a few minutes later. Sometimes I do this two or three times before I actually start writing again.

Basically, being distracted (or distracting myself) helps me write.

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