Addict Of The Internet


You’re sitting at your computer, focused, about to open your manuscript.  Your word count goal for the day is planned, and you’re determined to move the story forward.  You’re ready because, as recommended by many other successful writers, you purposefully stopped at a “good” spot in the storyline the day before.  This could be an area in the middle of a chapter where you know what you want to write next, or maybe you left off in the middle of good dialogue.  Now, as you sit there facing your manuscript, all you have to do is take just a second to go out on Google and research something for the next part of your story.  It’s right after this particular scene you’re working on and hey, you don’t want to lose the momentum once you start writing.

You click on your search engine, and take a moment to hop on over to Google and type in your intended search item.

Two hours later, you’ve *mysteriously* ended up on some random website, reading about a new facelift technique discovered by a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, and from there you *somehow* went on to this particularly intriguing article about what foods to avoid eating to cut down on belly fat, and, gosh, who knew that you could put that product, much like spackle, on the cracked area of your foundation, paint it, and voila!  Good as new, a do it yourself project for the spring!

At some point, you resurface like someone waking up from a drunk, staring with glassy eyed alarm at the time.  The time!  You feel like your brain has somehow gone through this strange time warp period, and what was supposed to have only lasted for a few minutes has now dissolved into hours.  Hours.

Despite all of my best intentions, I’ve wasted a lot of time on the internet doing what originally started out as “research” and ultimately ended up like some sort of freakish, uncontrollable free for all of website hopping that burned up irretrievable hours.  It’s almost like some sort of hypnotic pull on your eyes when various sites place these very intriguing blinking, winking windows and outlandish subtitles off to the side that have nothing to do with what you need, and everything to do with what all that other stuff you’ve browsed the internet for.  Like those summer sandals that ended up in hours of research about the Sandals resort vacations.  That recipe for the book club, moves on to watching Bobby Flay cook brunch.  The random search on a music artist leads to a YouTube listening and watching marathon of every song ever recorded.  A medication your mom wanted you to look up, turns into watching a live surgery of a 100 lb tumor.

Ho. Boy.

In the past, I’ve actually given myself a talking to before I Google.  Something like this.

“Don’t get diverted, you don’t need to know about that sale right this minute,” which is countered by the *other me,* “but what if it’s only for today?”  As if my very own fingers have turned autonomous, off they go, much to the horror of my very own eyes, while that good ole internal monologue I’ll call “crazy brainspeak” tries calm my increased heart rate with a bland, “Oh, this won’t take but a second to read…”

Like some irrepressible addict of the internet, boppity bop, there I go.

The word self-discipline comes to mind, doesn’t it?  Since I started on my new project, I’ve switched up the way I do things.  Before I do any research, any at all, I write.  Even if I have to put a placeholder in an area where I’ll need to eventually look for additional information.  I mark that area with a red bold XXXXXXXX.  It’s simple and it has worked. I’ve heard it takes three weeks for a new routine to become habit.  I’m passed that mark.

So far.  So good.

Are you wasting time on the internet instead of writing?

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14 Comments

I’ve spent more time on the internet than I have writing. Much more. But I don’t think I’ve ever avoided writing by surfing. If the writing isn’t coming, and I know the session is finished, I will go to the internet for solace. And there generally is something I need to research (for my stories or for my everyday life).

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    You know Paul, there’s a lot of truth in that statement; “for my stories, or for my everyday life.”

    Here’s how it’s been working for me since early January. I write. If I make the goal, hurray! If not, there’s tomorrow and a lot of times, what didn’t land on the page one day turns up the next. How? Fueled by research. I’ve discovered it can be the catalyst for lost word count.

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Are you wasting time on the internet instead of writing?

I’m here but I wouldn’t call it wasting time.

BTW I’d love to know your opinion of my latest post.
Holding my breath.

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I’ve done this, instead of reading. And I’ll look at the clock and see that two hours have passed and I have yet to pick up the book I sat down to read in the first place. ugh. I’m thinking I should leave my electronics in another room.

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Or… by the time you’ve Googled the topic, and 500 related (and not-at-all-related topics) you could have been to the library. 😉

To be honest, I’m such a lazy home-bod I rarely do library research. If I don’t have the research book I need to hand, I’ll go online and look up what I need to know. If the book’s that important to me, I’ll order it.

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I have certainly wasted time on the internet instead of writing? One trick to counter this is to use books (the paper kind) for research. But of course all the time you’re reading your brain will be telling you that the info on the internet will give you another perspective, or maybe there’s a review of the book you’re using on someone’s blog–there’s always an excuse to get sucked into the Information Black-Hole. In the end, I think your strategy is the best–especially if the research is just providing background color and not contributing to the plot in a major way. In that latter case, perhaps reserve a weekend for internet research only–no actual novel-writing. 🙂

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    Oops–I meant “I have certainly wasted time on the internet instead of writing.” Period. No question mark. 🙂

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      I figured that’s what you meant.

      The book idea is good – although, I assume you mean perhaps a good old fashioned set of encyclopedias? (does anyone even have those anymore?) That actually would be another good blog post. 🙂 For the most part, my research is very random, and what I might need to know could cover multiple topics – hence the possible need for multiple books. Like personality disorders, or details about trees, plants, or animals for a specific area, or maybe forensic info, etc. I have a library not far away, but honestly, by the time I go there, look up what I need, take notes, etc, I could have Googled it in seconds. This is, of course is why the internet can be helpful (if I can only control myself)

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