April 14th, 2017

This may be the most extreme example of a personal marshmallow test I have ever come across. Nadeem Aslam, writing in I take delight that my initials in Urdu look like a pen by an inkwell for The Guardian relates his experience:

There are afternoons when I don’t write, using the internet instead. I see the internet as a beautiful resource. Next to my writing desk is a blank sheet of A4 paper on to which I jot down things I need to look up – some to do with the book I am writing, others completely unrelated. Only when the sheet is full—on both sides—do I log on: it can take up to 10 days to fill the sheet. Then I go through the items one by one. A particular scene from a half-forgotten movie; the contemporary reviews of a classic novel … I stay logged on for as long as it takes to look everything up. Afterwards I pin a new sheet next to the desk.

My own practice is similar, but I don’t know that I could follow Aslam’s example of not looking up information until both sides of my paper were full. I find waiting until I’m done with the task at hand, at most a matter of an hour or two, difficult enough. This could be an interesting experiment.

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