It’s Forum Friday and as such time for another open discussion among the writing community.
Today’s issue is the internet.
Here’s the question:
Do you disconnect from the internet when you write? Do you find that it helps? What, in your estimation, are the advantages of writing with internet access and do they outweigh the obvious disadvantages (Facebook, email, StumbleUpon, etc. etc. etc.)?
I did a little experiment today: this morning, after a single round of checks (email, blog, and news) I flipped that tiny switch on the forefront of my laptop from right to left and thus turned off the wireless.
Now, I use the internet for a number of things when it comes to writing: music (which I find both mood-creating and productivity-boosting); research; a Thesaurus and Dictionary that is far more up-to-date and comprehensive than what my Microsoft Word 2003 has to offer.
However, in the course of my little experiment this morning I realized that I also unwittingly use the internet for other things whilst writing: an alarming number of quick, almost reflexive “I’m stuck on this sentence / just got to a stopping point, so I think I’ll pull up Firefox and see if anything is new on __________ and ____________ and ______________” checks, for instance. At least SEVEN TIMES between eight thirty and noon I caught myself absentmindedly opening that internet window. And if each of those instances had led to just another few clicks or words, can you imagine how much time that would have eaten up? Five minutes, twenty minutes, an hour? (For regardless of what you’re doing, if your browser is open chances are good that one click will lead to another.)
Honestly, I think that even when I MEAN well– when I open the browser to look up a word, or fact-check, or Google-image something so I can better describe it– I get sucked into the availability of information and distractions. And yes, I remain logged out of Facebook until evening, but that doesn’t mean I don’t check email a laughably unreasonable amount of times.
So how did my writing go today? Well, by noon I had written 587 words. That’s rather good for me (considering my heavy habit of self-editing).
I’ll try it again tomorrow.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to try writing without internet access for a day, or at least a few hours– and see what happens! Then tell us all about it.