Joe Fassler on writing, focus and disconnecting from the web:
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As twenty-first-century first-world humans, our first act in the morning is to check our phones—the nineteenth-century word we use to familiarize the glowing portals we carry with us, windowpanes we caress until they show us what we want. But writing, by necessity, means saying no to all of that. It’s an activity that must be monotasked—there is no other way to do it. And so it reminds us how it felt to do only one thing.
I think of the angels of the Paradiso, who when asked by Dante for the secret of their happiness, say: “We long for what we have.” Writing is a commitment to longing for what you have—an hour to kill, the pen, the paper, the mind’s low whirr—and no more.