A Safe Haven For Writing

safe1Witness my new secret weapon in the war against non-productivity.

This is a kitchen safe, designed, in the main, to help serial snackers resist cravings. (Put cookies in ‘cookie jar’ and set timer; safe now locks; no cookies for the cookie monster until the timer runs down.)

I’ve been using this to keep myself from the monstrous distraction that is the world wide web. Just before I start working in the morning, I unplug my wireless router and drop it and my phone into this cunningly designed safe. You spin the wheel to set how long you want the safe to lock, press down and, hey presto, you’re in lockdown.

I can strongly recommend this to anyone working from home who finds themselves distracted by the web. In fact, a few hours without internet feels so liberating, I’m considering doing this at the weekend as well, just to have a few ‘quiet’ hours.

And not only is this a great aid to a writer’s productivity but I think vitally important when it comes to quality as well. I know Jonathan Franzen can frequently come off curmudgeonly when he speaks about the web but I think he explained himself eloquently in a recent collection of writing advice from The Atlantic*.

To précis his point, Franzen accepts that the internet is an excellent research tool, that it brings people together in important, collaborative ways (people who share a passion, say, or people suffering the same disease who want to find someone to talk to etc.) and that he himself spends half his day on it “doing email, buying plane tickets, ordering stuff online, looking at bird pictures…” (this may come as a surprise to those who’ve read one of his rants on the topic before), however, he points out that, “Good novels aren’t written by committee. Good novels aren’t collaborated on. Good novels are produced by people who voluntarily isolate themselves, and go deep, and report from the depths on what they find.”

And that’s the important point. Writing is about sinking into your own head, listening to your own thoughts, or “finding your own individual voice, not a group voice” as Franzen puts it.

Anyway, I promise you I have no financial interest in The Kitchen Safe. And of course, you could use any timed safe or lockbox. I just happen to find this one keeps me from the sort of cookies I am least able to resist. The ones made of data.


The article in The Atlantic is here. It’s a great piece full of excellent advice from numerous writers.

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