Here is the key point I'd like to address: "Twitter can be something you have on in the background while you work."
That all depends on how you define work. I can stuff envelopes and look at Twitter. I can alphabetize student papers and look at Twitter. I can grade and look at Twitter or organize my bookshelves and look at Twitter. I could certainly write a blogpost and still look at Twitter.
But write and look at those Twitter pop-ups every 10 seconds? Not so much. I'm ready to throttle the little TweetDeck bird after about 5 minutes.
I look at the advice from real writers on the sidebar, on the web, from a lot of my previous posts quoting writing experts, and from Boice and Silvia, and they all have just about the same Five Commandments:
- Thou shalt leave the internet off or at least minimize distractions while you write.
- Thy writing should be thy sole focus for a period of time. "Multitasking" is a myth if you're actually writing something worthwhile that requires thought.
- Thou shalt give thyself an extended period of time, if possible, so that thoughts can develop.
- Thou shalt not interrupt the "flow" of writing that occurs once you get absorbed in your subject for the day, especially not for extraneous stuff like worrying about whether you turned in a report or whether X likes what you did that day.
- Thou shalt write every day, in the morning, if possible, or whenever works best for you. As Francis Ford Coppola puts it in his comments on writing, get up and write before anyone has a chance to be mean to you, to which I'd add "including you being mean to you," by giving space to that incessant internal monologue of tasks and worries.
The thing is, as Gulliver correctly states, you can't just be on Twitter a little bit. The reason that's a problem is that it, like Facebook, has become such a primary means of scholarly communication for a lot of groups and scholars. Ignore these two, and you miss out on important information because that's where the information is being disseminated.
So here is the quandary:
- To write and eventually be part of the scholarly conversation, you need fewer distractions and as much time as you can manage to actually do the writing. You need to slow down, minimize interruptions, think, and pay attention to what's in your head.
- But to be part of the scholarly conversation, you have to pay attention to Twitter and Facebook on a daily (or, for Twitter, several times daily) basis, since there are resources there that you won't find elsewhere. You need to speed up, be ready to be interrupted, follow links when they occur (and everyone has a link to share), and give your attention to social networking.
Someone needs to reconcile the 10 commandments with the 5 commandments.