Susan Orlean on Blogs, Twitter and Writing

Susan Orlean. (Photo by Getty Images)

Susan Orlean. (Photo by Getty Images)

“I’m trying to remember what we did to procrastinate before Twitter,” Susan Orlean tweeted yesterday. “Anyone?”

If you listened to her interview with the literary podcast All Write Already that came out the same day, you’d have her answer.

“All writers should have as many forms of unproductive distraction as possible,” Ms. Orlean said, tongue slightly in cheek, “so for me it used to be that I would clean drawers or rearrange my closets, or I’d start cooking lunch. I had many many ways of pretending to be working but not really be working.”

“Twitter is quite marvelous at that,” Ms. Orlean continued. “It is a wonderful, wonderful way of procrastinating. It’s important … part of being a writer is good distraction.”

In a nearly half-hour interview, Ms. Orlean, the author and New Yorker staff writer, discussed the nature of blogs, the limitations of computers and her writing process, among other things.

“If you want to write, there has never been a better environment for writing and getting your work broadcast to the world,” Ms. Orlean said. “On the other hand, I think it’s harder to get paid, so you have to begin thinking in a rather different way. I’ve always been very skeptical about the value of a blog. It’s not the thing that I tell people to do. I don’t say, number one, start a blog. And the reason for that is very specific, which is, it’s not only that you don’t get paid, it’s that you have no editor and no opportunity to have your work filtered through a critical eye.”

If Ms. Orleans sounds like a technophobe, don’t get the wrong impression. She uses a Livescribe pen, for one, and is an advocate of Evernote. She also has 265,189 followers on Twitter and has published more than 25,000 tweets. That’s what we call procrastination.