In my experience, the hardest part of being a writer is getting into the mindset to actually accomplish something. The world is full of distractions, some more important than others, but while family, friends, work, and school are legitimate excuses for postponing work on your latest writing project, there are a number of other, less than constructive ways in which to spend the spare time you should be using to get some writing done. And in today's day and age, where seemingly everything we do is tied to technology, one in particular manages to monopolize our attention. Yes, folks, I'm talking about the worldwide web a.k.a. the Internet a.k.a. the arch-nemesis of writers everywhere.
Although the Internet is an invaluable resource, considering it is virtually a limitless jumble of information, I have found it to be the most troublesome distraction when I'm trying to work on a project. While the television, radio, and cell phones can easily be turned off and set aside, the Internet is omnipresent. Unless you write by hand or are one of the select few to stubbornly cling to your twenty-year-old typewriter, chances are you spend several hours a day in front of a computer screen, like you are right now.
The fact of the matter is that there is no way to escape the Internet. After all, when you're writing, the web is only a double-click away. Even the slightest inclination to check your e-mail, browse a site, or IM someone can be rewarded in a matter of seconds. You tell yourself that you'll only go on for a second, but deep down, you know signing on to your ISP is a bad idea. However, nothing is more intimidating than a blank page waiting to be filled with your brilliant prose. So writers (myself included) often find themselves killing precious time meandering around the corners of our favorite website.
And in the last couple of years, this problem has gotten SO much worse. With the inception and massive popularization of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, the general public is encouraged to spend even more time online customizing their profiling, contacting friends (or total strangers, for that matter), or researching whatever happened to their high school crush. YouTube is another huge offender, seducing us creative types away from our respective projects to revel in the ridiculous (but often very entertaining) videos that users have uploaded.
So, while there is no denying that the Internet has revolutionized the way we obtain and share information, it has also become a problem for writers, especially those stricken with "writer's block" (though I don't believe such a thing really exists...but that's a topic for another post. In fact, look for that as a future lesson). And because most of us rely on the computer to do all our writing, we must always struggle with the urge to surf the web rather than focus our energies on our writing. Since there's no way to completely avoid the Internet and therefore the temptation to wander from your work, the only option is to mentally train yourself to stay in the zone.
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this issue. How do you combat the constant distraction of the Internet when you're trying to get some writing done? Please let me know!
Thanks for reading...