Even non-writers will benefit from reading Cory Doctorow: Writing in the Age of Distraction. We all work on on computers, a few clicks away from a universe of distraction. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been working on a project when I pull up Google to research something that I need clarification on, only to discover some terribly interesting that I just have to read, which leads to something else, which leads to…you get the idea.
He also makes the point that “realtime communications tools are deadly”, which I’ve always agreed with. Whenever possible I’ve tried to avoid instant messaging while at work. I’ve used it, of course, when dealing with an outside development team or whatever – that makes sense. But once it’s installed and open, the temptation is huge to let friends or family get in touch with you, and it’s all downhill from there. I’m the same about phone calls. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been struggling with a complex problem, only to have to take an important call. By the time I get off the phone, the strands that I was trying to untangle are knotted again.
Back to writing, and another awesome resource that has benefit to non-writers as well: Stephen King’s On Writing. He is one of my favourite writers, and at his best I think that he is one of the best writers alive. His writing is beautiful without being overly clever or literary in a “look at me!” way. In 1996 he was awarded the O. Henry Prize for his story “The Man in the Black Suit”. It and the story “The Last Rung on the Ladder” are two of my favourite non-horror short stories that he’s written. Plain and perfect.