Rachel Grate
October 14, 2015 6:18 am

You can pretty much like and comment on any media you consume these days  — except books. Lucky for my fellow social media addicts, one author’s out to change that.

Joshua Cohen, an author whose essays have been in The New York Times and Harper’s, is currently writing a novel online. And not only can we see his progress as he works, we can like and comment as we see fit too. (Because live-tweeting a book is so 2014, apparently.)

But in all earnestness, this project is incredibly cool. You can check out the “real-time serial novel” at pckwck.com. Warning: you may lose your entire afternoon. Spying on his writing process is way too much fun to stop and be productive yourself (at least in my experience).

(One more reason to check out this project — it’s perfect timing to inspire you for National Novel Writing Month. After all, if he can write a book while everyone watches, it makes writing one without that pressure seem easy… right?)

So far, PCKWCK follows a writer named Sham Al-Warraq. In the first two chapters, we’ve been treated to some philosophical musings on everything from World War II to Snowden. We won’t find out more until tomorrow at 1 p.m. EST, when he writes for five hours each day.

I’m already setting an alert to tune in, because watching his work half feels like eavesdropping and half feels like being dropped into a crazy Google Doc and left to explore. And the medium is surprisingly fitting the meta topic of the book. I mean, just think about it: a novel about a writer being written for everyone to see.

“I’ve lived in a world too fast, too skimscan, careless, hasty, glancing. And what I do — what I did as a writer was very slow,” one passage reads. “I’ve lived in a world in which a man can sit and write a book atop a steering wheel, and then he just says some stuff aloud, into a microphone, into a camera, and it becomes his statement forever.”

Not only can you get involved, Cohen wants you to. The website even has a questionnaire button that readers can fill out daily to help “generate useful analytics to shape the novel.”

To me, this sounds like a writers’ dream come true and worst nightmare all in one. You can get feedback and brainstorm as you’re writing, but what if that feedback tears apart your focus? But that just fuels my morbid curiosity to find out how the book comes together (or doesn’t) in real-time.

Image via iStock

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