The Writing Life

Writing Without the Internet

Fri, 08/10/2007 - 2:02pm

Apparently I'm not the only one in New York trying to get some writing done. I shot this photo last week outside of Trader Joe's. 

I haven't been able to log onto the internet the last couple of days and the same two days have felt especially productive for the novel. Coincidence? I often encourage my students and clients who complain about not getting any writing done to write out new scenes in a notebook or with their connection to the internet turned off. "But what if I need to look something up?"

My suggestion is to make a note to self and then keep moving forward. It would look like this:

The urge came over her at the stoplight on ??St. and ??Ave (look up), six blocks  uptown??downtown?? from The ??restaurant near the Met. It didn't matter it was February, ??degrees outside, that she was on her way to meet her boss and his partner, or that the cab driver seemed to be staring at her in the rear view mirror. It didn't matter to her that the three glasses of Pinot Grigio she'd had at home had made it difficult for her to get into the cab in the first place; and she didn't even care that she hadn't shaved her legs in a week. The only thing that mattered to her was freedom. And since she hadn't been able to muster a single moment of feeling free since Jay had gotten sick, her desire to feel it now had become overwhelming. Unfortunately, the removal of her nylons didn't prove to be as easy as she'd hoped. The cab driver was already asking if she wanted a receipt and the valet had already opened the door. Her skirt was undone, she couldn't find her left shoe, and she had a blurry view into the restaurant's bar. Clay was checking his watch and her pantyhose were still in a bunch around her stubbly ankles." 

Had I been logged on while writing that example, I probably would've wanted to know what Opera was showing at that time last year and where they would've met for drinks. So I would've started by googling "Metropolitan Opera House New York City" and clicking on their 2006 schedule. I might have noticed a headshot of an attractive Italian singer. Next I'd google him. I'd open a second window and log into Travelocity to find out how much fares are to Rome and on and on. 

So I've decided that while I still have so many new scenes to write on this novel, I'm going to spend two hours of my writing time with my connection to the internet off. I can always use italics or a highlighter reminding me to go back later and fill in the research blanks. This seems especially important for me when writing new scenes.