I find the Internet really distracting, especially from the work of writing. It’s so tempting to check your email, read the news, or spy on people. Mac users can download a cool program called Freedom that allows you to disable the Internet for a set period of time, but I write on PC, so I generally just try to exert my willpower.
I do find it helpful to get inspired by other people, though, so I spend a good amount of time every day reading–usually this will propel me back into my own work. A while ago I wrote about how much I admired Salvatore Scibona’s The End. He has several interviews online, but I liked this one, with Fiction Writers Review, especially. He discusses the difference between discipline and habit, and talks about systems, austerity, and worm farming. I like the story he tells about his mother calling him at 4:30 in the morning so he could write before work. It reminds me of Barack Obama and his mother (she used to wake him up around the same time to study); I’ve certainly repeated that story to a lot of fifth graders. Moms are great.
Anyway, I think reading about the writing process and the lives of other writers, especially the ones more time-pressed than you, is useful. It reminds you not to waste time. William Styron couldn’t write until the afternoon (he was a night owl and a drinker). Tillie Olsen had four kids and had to write on the bus or after her children were asleep. It took her two years to finish “I Stand Here Ironing.” She says in Silences, her book about writers and the many things that keep them from their work: “it is distraction, not meditation, that becomes habitual; interruption, not continuity.”
If I didn’t convince you to read The End in my previous post, Graywolf has a nice excerpt on their website.