To start off today, I have to announce a new story. Still Waters Run Deep is now posted at Turtleduck Press, and it marks several firsts for me — it’s the beginning of a serial, and it was inspired by my Asia trip. To be precise, it’s a fantasy story set in a world that looks something like Thailand. And did I mention it’s free?
I’ve been thinking a lot about something I wrote here two weeks ago:
3. The Internet isn’t that important. When I was travelling, Internet time was severely limited. What did I spend it on? Email and Facebook, to stay connected with people back home. Blogging. Travel research. A handful of other sites. Everything that didn’t make the cut is superfluous. Instead of being bombarded with a flow of information and LOLcats, I was bombarded with new sights and new experiences…in other words, with life. As a writer, I can’t stay away completely — I need to keep up with blogs and other social media, publishing news, and so on — but I can take a good, hard look at my Internet usage.
As you might imagine, it’s hard to make lasting change, no matter how good one’s intentions. The Internet is my entertainment of choice, up near books and way ahead of TV or movies or music — plus it’s a social hub and a professional necessity. So I’m finding myself getting sucked back in…and then feeling guilty about it, of course. But this time, I’m paying attention.
I’ve been deliberately staying away from some of my worst time-sucks from before the trip — Pinterest, Twitter, my extensive list of blog feeds — but I know that, as a writer who’s trying to network and stay informed, at least two of those need to be reinstated as part of my life. The trick will be keeping them as a small part of my life. And if I somehow manage not to gorge on those, then there are always more — Facebook, brain candy like Buzzfeed or Cracked.com, or, heaven forbid, the news online.
Which leads me to this post by Adam Brault:
I used to believe that time was the most important thing I have, but I’ve come to believe differently. The single most valuable resource I have is uninterrupted thought.
His comments were made in reference to Twitter, but the same sentiments hold true for the rest of the Internet. He talks about intending to put Twitter “in a box”, but knowing that doing so is harder to maintain than quitting entirely. He talks about having a clearer mind and better ability to focus.
The Internet encourages our “Ooh, shiny!” or “SQUIRREL!” tendencies; it discourages deeper thought, at least the way most people use it. And of course, deeper thought is kind of important for a writer. Even if you’re telling yourself that you’re reading these blog posts on writing to better your craft, is that really the most efficient way to better your craft…or would it be better to spend that time writing?
But we can’t live without it.
For now, I’m trying Freedom, a software program that locks you out of the Internet entirely for the time you specify. I put it on for an hour at a time and focus on my novel-edit-in-progress. It works beautifully. Next step will be to increase the length of time.
But that still doesn’t solve the problem of how to use, engage with, and yes, play on the Internet without letting it take over.
Over to you. I know I’m not the only one with this problem, writer or not. How do you balance the Internet with the rest of your life?