Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jonathan Franzen on writing

Jonathan Franzen's writing habits, from a profile in Time magazine this week (abridged version here).
He writes six or seven days a week, starting at 7 a.m. He's often hoarse at the end of the day because he performs his dialogue out loud as he writes it. . . . Franzen works in a rented office that he has stripped of all distractions. He uses a heavy, obsolete Dell laptop from which he has scoured any trace of hearts and solitaire, down to the level of the operating system. Because Franzen believes you can't write serious fiction on a computer that's connected to the Internet, he not only removed the Dell's wireless card but also permanently blocked its Ethernet port. "What you have to do," he explains, "is you plug in an Ethernet cable with superglue, and then you saw off the little head of it."
Wow. I thought Leechblock and turning off the wireless router was a big step in the right direction, but Franzen is really committed to driving a stake through the heart of the distraction. Well done!

In other news, I talked with some colleagues today, and naturally the talk turned to writing. One confessed that he'd had a good month. How much did he write? Let's just say it's in the tens of thousands of words. In a month. On a scholarly project. Envious? I am.

More Jonathan Franzen writing inspiration


Nicole said...


Must keep Boicing. 30 more min of early morning writing...

I think I'd be more productive if I didn't keep getting distracted.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

What period is this tens-of-thousands guy working in?

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

And while I'm at it, how many languages? And how many original manuscripts in horrible handwriting does he have to read?

You get my drift . . . if he's writing about, say, Jonathan Franzen, I'm not impressed.

undine said...

"Boicing" as a verb--ha! I like it.

Dame Eleanor, that's the only thing that made me feel better. One language, no original manuscripts, and I think he was writing either fact-based fiction or creative nonfiction. I don't want to diss that as a discipline, but it may make a difference. Spouse made the point that if you divide it up, 20,000 words (say) is about 667 words a day, which is what a lot of us shoot for. That made me feel better, too.