Monday, October 6, 2014

That Black Hole that is the Internet

There are a lot of things in this world that have set themselves the personal goal of ruining as many budding writing careers as possible. At least that's how it feels to me most of the time. Especially on rainy mornings when I've been up too late for too many nights in a row and the floor of my bedroom feels more like an ice rink than a floor has any right to.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, sometimes life gets in the way of writing.

But it's never that simple, is it? LIFE never comes as one tidy package.* It's a whole lovely, ugly, jumbled pile of a thousand tiny distractions and demands on our time.** However, for me at least, there is one great LOOMING DISTRACTION that TOWERS over all the others. Even paper research and eating.***

And that is . . .



Now, people write about this all the time. In fact, I think this is one of the things I see discussed most in list-style posts of writing advice. Usually, you are encouraged to leave the internet alone and just write your novel.

No doubt, you have seen some iteration of THIS meme:


All well and good. Don't be distracted by the internet. HA. 

NOW for my main dilemma. We are simultaneously encouraged to have an internet presence. Blog, tweet, pin, tumbl, post and otherwise promote yourself so that future agents will realize you are a marketing genius as well as a poet who happens to write prose.

This requires not only marketing genius (real or imagined), but world class time management skills and a will of adamantine iron. How much time does one devote to one's internet presence(s)? How much is too much? How much too little? I've seen people suggest various percentage figures, but I find it nearly impossible--not to mention odious--to calculate how much of my time is exactly 17% of my time.

But the fact that it's a time suck, isn't the only reason the internet is a threat to my writing life.

I think it messes with my connection to my story. It's distracting and it . . . muddies the waters somehow. I feel less clearly. The words are more difficult to dredge up and less attractive. It's harder to value what I'm doing. Basically, I like what I produce better on days that aren't littered with cat videos. But while I'm enjoying my proverbial cat videos, I hardly notice the difference. It's only later, when I'm assessing how little I've accomplished, that I see the different. That's why it's such a very sneaky distraction.

I think if I were designing my perfect impossible writing life, the day would begin with poetry or a few pages of one of my favorite authors. Just something to get the taste of beautiful words in my mouth.

I have little time for my writing this semester, but I do have some. I can get up early before my classes and write for maybe an hour before I have to start getting ready for the rest of my day. I used to use a little ramble around the internet as a way to warm up, but I think it's hurting more than it ever helped. But I don't want to give up all my internet time. It's fun and I'm supposed to be doing some unspecified amount of socializing online anyway. However, I think I can conquer this problem merely by avoiding the whole internet until I've done my writing for the day.

RESOLUTION: This week I will put Self-Restraint on for the duration of my writing time. Further more, I will actually get out of bed at the appointed time and sit down at my desk no matter how groggy I feel. In addition, I will put my hands on the keyboard and write things.

Wish me luck. I'll tell you how it goes.


* Unless you've ordered a year's subscription to the magazine. In which case, I'm sure it's very tidy.

** I'm put in mind of an illustrated copy of "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out" by Shel Silverstein that I once owned.

*** Unless it's pie. Nothing is more important than pie.

^ Says the girl writing a blog post. 


  1. That sounds like a good resolution, my friend. I try to avoid the internet until I've done my writing, too. The hardest thing for me is actually to resist checking my emails, because they scroll through the little app box on my start screen. But even that gets me distracted enough that I'm not in the right mindset.

    And thank you for reminding me I was going to implement the practice of reading a bit of something before you write! I decided to try that a while ago and never did...

    Finally, I know we've talked about this, but I think the answer to the dilemma really is that your writing should come first, and social media (especially when pre-published<---LOL what a euphemism...) should be part of your life insofar as it is actually helpful to your writing and your morale. For instance, I continue to spend time on Twitter because I often find it energizing and motivating. Some days (as you also know) I don't find it helpful, and avoid it. As I understand it this changes considerably when one gets a book deal, of course.

    1. *before I write...

      When will blogger get us an editing feature on these comments?