On my low-tech life



This is a pocket watch. Not just any pocket watch, but my pocket watch.

I’ve carried a pocket watch for years because I destroy wristwatches within twenty-four hours of acquiring them, but a good pocket watch can last a long time.

This one I got in Paris last year because I forgot my then-pocket watch. You may have deduced that from the Eiffel Tower on the face, screaming as it does, “Tourist!”

The story of Jessica and me in Paris is one that I’ll get around to writing about soon, just keep an eye on the Travels with Jessica blog.

Anyway. Pocket watch. I note that most people use their smart phones as watches these days, so probably the watch industry is feeling the effects of changes in how we use phones (which doesn’t seem fair at all, does it?) but this isn’t about changing industries or whatever. It’s about how the pocket watch does its job. And its job is to tell me what time it is without further distracting me from my purpose.

If you’ve been a writer for more than twelve minutes, then you know that the hardest part about writing, harder than critics and editors and rejections, harder than the cold cruel world of publishing and late payments and “you’ll write for free, won’t you?” is maintaining focus. Because nothing gets done without focus, and if your focus wanders off every ten minutes, then it takes you nine hours to accomplish what should take you two.

And that is why I have a pocket watch. I glance at it to see if I’m about to overstay the parking meter, or if it’s time to pick Jessica up from school. Then I put it back in my pocket. And I go back to doing what I was doing. There is nothing else I can do with the pocket watch but tell the time, and there is nothing else I need to know when I am working except what time it is.

But if I glance at my smart phone, then I will think, “Ah, I might as well check messages. Oh, and I should look up the forecast. Oh, and I should write that email to Randy.” And an hour later I wonder what happened to my writing time.

You know this is true. You’ve done this yourself. So here are my words to live by: Buy a pocket watch. (You can thank me later.)


Dojo Wisdom for Writers, second edition, now available!
Catch a Falling Star (by Jessica Starre) and The Matchmaker Meets Her Match (by Jenny Jacobs), two of my favorite novels.

And don’t forget classes for writers—and more on writing at BeYourOwnBookDoctor.com