I’ve always felt deeply ambivalent about ‘the process’, mainly because most of the time it sounds like a load of horseshit to me. I never held much of a romantic attachment to this idea of the anguished writer locked in their garret or remote cabin in the woods or filthy hotel room trying desperately to squeeze out a masterpiece. It’s not the 1920s anymore. In fact it’s almost the 2020s. I am confused by a great writer like Jonathan Franzen locking himself in a dusty room and pouring glue into the internet port on his laptop. He says he cannot abide the many distractions of the Interwebs. I can’t write without them.
I love having a tiny flat computer that I can carry around with me and open up wherever I want to do a bit of writing. I always have my email, Facebook and Twitter accounts open and minimised on the desktop. I tend to write in 20-minute bursts (doesn’t everyone? Does Franzen honestly write for eight hours straight without taking a break to have a muffin or whatever?). Rather than get up and wander around aimlessly or clean the bathroom or play chasey with the cat I stay at the desk and check my email and social media accounts, actively seeking out distractions. That’s what I do when I want to take a break. It’s a corny cliché, but I genuinely feel part of a living community of writers and artists and I love finding out what they’re all up to. I always dreamed of this as a kid, this notion of being plugged into my own curated world, which I can dip in and out of at any time. Writing is a solitary pursuit, they say, and yet I never feel alone when I’m doing it. Not any more. For me connection equals proliferation equals inspiration. There are millions of interesting people out there working on millions of interesting projects and I’m just happy to be a tiny part of that. I don’t write separately to the world. I write in it.
Chris Flynn is books editor at The Big Issue and author of A Tiger in Eden (Text Publishing).