“However entrancing it is to wander unchecked through a garden of bright images, are we not enticing your mind from another subject of almost equal importance?”
― Ernest Bramah
A writer’s mind is a never-ending stream of thought. The mere process of collecting these ideas, story fragments, loose emotional elements, broken time lines, and all the other tiny puzzle pieces that eventually form a greater work is incredibly daunting and even—scary.
This is why distraction is such a problem for writers; we often find reason to accomplish any other task not related to writing, even though all we want is to write. It’s sheer lunacy. But it’s because of distraction, or rather, because of modern distraction, that we lose ourselves—our creativity.
With the technological advancements and the social media age taking hold of our lives, distraction has become routine. Where writers once sat quietly, pounding away at a typewriter in solitude, we must now first escape the world completely in order to accomplish the same set of task. But how do you escape the world when you’re drowning in an ocean of information—a sea of distraction with waves of virtual interaction crashing down upon you—beckoning for your attention, and all but forcing your focus to shift away from your passion? How can you write when the machine you are writing on IS the distraction?
It’s easier now than ever to write a novel; we have endless information at our fingertips. We can learn the process in an afternoon for free in the comforts of our own homes. We can use software which corrects our grammar, upgrades our vocabulary without the need for language learning, structures our sentences properly, and even formats everything for whichever type of publishing we choose. Hell, we can even publish our work ourselves without the pain of rejection caused by submitting to any big-name publishing house. But this all comes at a great cost; our imagination.
While writers were once forced to learn the meaning and spelling of words, we now have programs to do that for us. Long gone are the days where even amateur writers studied the dictionary to better replicate the styles of your H.P. Lovecraft’s or Edgar Allan Poe’s. Long gone is our need to go through the arduous process of learning to write. These days we just skip right to the finish line—completing a novel without even knowing how to properly form a sentence.
Without learning the writing process or mastering the language, we are met with bland mediocrity. Originality and unique storytelling fall to the wayside as we further degrade into a world of purposeful misspellings and emoji’s; much like modern hieroglyphics that threaten the beautiful art of using words to paint pictures.
We lack an organic voice as ours has been taken—taken and replaced with one that replicates that of the very things which distract us. Our language has been hijacked by universal slang: with words and phrases like bae, hashtag, emoji, straight savage, and bruh replacing the need for original thought—causing unique ideas to die and be reborn as clones artificially created to cause a uniform society. Individuality has been snuffed out to make way for a single unified voice. Ultimately, it’s the death of the writer—an end to original creation.
Technology gives us plenty, but it also takes away just as much. Where we can now discuss and share our work easier online, we also lose most aspects of constructive criticism since nobody wants to disrupt their social presence by “offending” anyone else. We might be put in easier positions to have our work noticed through many different avenues, but we also lose focus and desire for self-improvement as we now have TOO many options for showcasing our writing. Even competition among writers has dwindled because nobody feels they must be the best anymore. Too many modern writers are simply satisfied with making money or having a fan base. This leads to absolute drivel finding its way onto the best sellers list.
What can the modern writer do to find their voice through the endless cacophony of distraction? How can one rise above the uniform fields of carbon copy authors? The answers will be found at the touch of a button—the off button.
If technology is sapping your creative potential, holding your talent in place with its strong grip of distraction, you have one of two main options.
Get Away From It
If the distraction of social media and entertainment is too much for you to work around, create a quiet zone. Find a spot where you can turn off unnecessary technology and just work: no phone, no social media, no TV, no entertainment whatsoever. Just you and your mind.
Use the technology for what it was intended for; to learn. Any information you need is just a click away. Upgrading your vocabulary has never been easier. You can take free online classes to improve your writing techniques. You can find seminars, writing groups, and countless articles related to helping you learn the process. There are places where you can share your work and get proper feedback, teaching you what you need to work on and what you are already good at. You can even find apps to help spark your creativity or keep you more organized and prone to finish work.
While smartphones dumb down the world around you, you hold the power to use it to your advantage. While others lose their voice to the growing collection of others, you can scream into the megaphone and make everyone listen. While other’s creativity dulls, yours can flourish.
You can be the voice of the new generation of writers. You can be the next great author of the modern era. The only thing holding you back—is you.