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Cathy Rentzenbrink on attention spans.

Harry Webster

Books journalist and author Cathy Rentzenbrink talks to us about distractions, the benefits of patience and the “sensuous intellectual pleasure” of reading something long. All in just six minutes.

In the first of our Lit Platform podcasts, we speak to Cathy Rentzenbrink about the theme of this issue and how her diminishing attention span (or otherwise) affects her as a writer and reader. Here’s the top three lessons we learnt.

  1. Protect as a writer. “When I teach writing, a lot of people are often surprised how much I talk about the fact that protecting your attention is a really important thing. When I’m at home I don’t look at my emails or my phone until I’ve done my morning’s work. It’s good for me as a writer.”
  2. Martial as a reader. “I usually turn my phone off at 5.30pm. I read to my son, he goes to sleep and then I spend the hours before bed reading. I work hard at martialling my attention span. I did it because I was going completely insane when I wasn’t doing it.”
  3. Enjoy getting lost. “I’m really enjoying getting away from social media and email by reading something long and complex. I reread Anna Karenina again lately. It took me ten nights.”

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