LawProse Lesson #317: Writing in solitude.

LawProse Lesson #317: Writing in solitude.

Writing in solitude—with concentration.

There’s a crisis of inattention in the modern world. We’re all surrounded by electronic devices that sound off continually, requiring—or seeming to require—our immediate attention. We end up concentrating for five or ten seconds before mentally resting a bit until the next surge of attention is required (or seemingly required). Scientists say that we’re all “cognitively busy.” But really we’re cognitively scattered. People have made scatter-brained. The modern attention span is doubtless shorter than ever. Ernest Hemingway once said in an interview, “You can write anytime people will leave you alone and not interrupt you.” It’s true. If you’re a writer, you must arrange time when people will leave you alone and not interrupt you. The biggest key to writing is to apply your seat to the chair, when nobody else is around, and to write. Having nobody else around includes silencing your smartphone and turning off popup notifications. A real writer needs time to contemplate and compose in silence. Further reading: Garner on Language and Writing 4–14 (2009). Legal Writing in Plain English 7–16 (2d ed. 2013). Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges 80–81 (2018). The Winning Brief 60–62 (3d ed. 2014).

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