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Writing in the Age of Distraction

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By Lauren Dodd February 10, 2020 - 8:27am

As I look to tackle writing my critical review assignment, I find myself answering emails and looking into random information that popped into my head that is totally unrelated to the task at hand. I appreciated the link to Cory Doctorow's article Writing in the Age of Distraction at such a perfect time. Cory describes so many of the obstacles that I face when trying to simply write and ignore everything else. It does not seem possible in this day and age. 

I recall writing essays in high school and in my undergraduate degree and never once did I type up the essay until it was the final version. I would have my pad of lined paper and it didn't matter how many times I had to scratch out and edit, I was able to write out the entire essay by hand. I wasn't concerned about answering my cell phone or answering emails and was able to shut the rest of the world out to completely focus. Funny enough, if I put Dawson's Creek on in the background, I was able to zone in on my essay and write 1000 words in one sitting. Since moving to typing the essay on the computer from draft stage, I have faced much more difficulty in concentrating and actually being able to sit down and write when I so desperately need to be. 

Cory states it perfectly when he states that writers are "overwhelmed by the myriad distractions that lie one click away on the Internet, but of course writers face the same glorious problem: the delirious world of information and communication and community that lurks behind your screen, one alt-tab away from your word-processor" (Doctorow, 2009). 

During my graduate studies, I have questioned whether I should go back to a way that I felt that I was more successful; writing the essay out with a pencil on a notepad of paper. However, when a 25 page essay is required, it doesn't seem logical to write that much information and sources out on paper. For a smaller assignment of 1000 words, perhaps it would be best to revert to a more successful and less distracting method. Or, maybe I should consider turning off email, text, and any other piece of technology that could distract me from the task at hand. 


Doctorow, Cory. “Writing in the Age of Distraction.” Locus Magazine , Jan. 2009,


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