Writer and director Judd Apatow, the man behind comedies like The 40 Year Old Virgin and Funny People, talked about his Twitter habit with Jay Leno on Wednesday. Apatow's comments offer some insight into the way Twitter--and the Internet as a whole--affects writers.
Explaining to Leno why he's so active on Twitter, Apatow said, "I'm looking for any distraction not to write." He continued (with typical Apatow flair):
I'm supposed to be writing a new screenplay. You know, it's hard to write, because the computer now isn't like a typewriter; [the computer] has everything fun on the world on it. So everything is a distraction from writing. I'm not looking at a screen; I'm looking at every episode of "South Park," every video ever made, every porno ever made. Every time I sit down to write I could just type in "kid vomits in dad's mouth" and not write for two hours.
His comments remind me of something the novelist Jonathan Franzen said. "It's doubtful that anyone with an Internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction," he told The Guardian newspaper.
Although I'm not writing fiction at work, I do cruise over to Twitter, or someplace else on the Web, if my mind is idle for even a moment. Ostensibly, I'm "doing research." And in many cases that time on Twitter helps me be a better editor of PR Daily. Still, there are lots of instances in which I'm just procrastinating. Not sure if it hurts my writing, but it definitely makes my day longer.
Maybe having two computers on my desk -- one without an Internet connection -- is a good idea.
Here's the video of Apatow's appearance on "The Tonight Show." The quote I pulled happens in the first minute of this segment. After that, Apatow, Leno, and the evening's other guest, Robin Williams, discuss porn. So, if you're watching at work, be careful.
Here's the link in case you can't see the video.