Is Technology the Enemy of the Writer?

This morning, after dropping PT at primary school and seeing NOS off to his first day of high school, I found myself with one of those rare things…

Peace.

TOH is in college, doing his arty thing and with both kids at school I don’t have to worry about anything until I go down to pick up PT at 2.30.

I came in, turned the PC on, started my favourite inspiring playlist going and looked at my to do list:

  1. Choose or Die Chapter 4.
  2.  Finish The Second Door.
  3.  Design an IIAAC logo.
  4.  Change my book tweets and spend some time interacting with people.
  5. Check Email / Facebook.
  6. Research for New Arkingham Book.

Now, #1 is the most important – it has a deadline of Sunday and it’s already Thursday… but my treacherous subconscious sent me straight to #5 and before I knew it, I was on Facebook, scrolling through the Newsfeed and commenting on Cat Pictures!

Then I came across a post from another Writer, someone who I feel is very much a role model for me. M.M. Bennetts is a Historical Fiction Author, who loves horses and has a particularly intelligent sense of humour.

The latest thing she’d posted was a link to an article in the Telegraph Online.

I am a sucker for interesting sounding news stories. It’s the reason that I enjoy watching “The Wright Stuff” with TOH when he is home, and why I often find myself reading Huffpost or the BBC website.

This article however struck me as particularly apt for my particular brand of To-Do List:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/9522845/Shutting-out-a-world-of-digital-distraction.html

This was the question that hit me smack in the face:

“As we immerse ourselves in the internet more and more, how we balance its distractions with its benefits will become increasingly important. So just how widespread is the use of tools such as Freedom and SelfControl among novelists trying to carve out the space in which to think and write, and what does it say about our ability to concentrate in the digital age?”

– Carl Wilkinson, WWW.Telegraph.co.uk

I agree with Ned Beauman, in that the Internet is an incredibly useful tool, for researching, for publishing and for connecting with other writers. Writing can be an incredibly lonely profession and the social network sites provide us with ways of connecting with our readers and each other.

However.

The Internet is also a majorly addictive thing…

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9511611/Addicted-to-the-internet-It-could-be-all-in-your-genes.html

I am addicted to the Internet – when I can’t get on, I get withdrawal symptoms and although my writing productivity goes up, my mood drops and I start eating a lot of stuff which is bad for me… I also neglect my family,unless I’m forced away from the PC and the house is an utter tip, something which I am trying to deal with.

I know my family has problems with addiction; my dad is unable to give up smoking and my mum almost became an alchoholic and has a *smoking* issue.

So I have to control how much distraction I have when I want to write. I write best when there is no one around and I can minimise the distraction. If I am working on something (like today) I’ll have music on, and I’ll only check in on facebook occasionally. If I have other distractions like the kids around, then I am on facebook a lot… which isn’t good for my family or my writing.

I know I have to get a handle on this. If I don’t then I will never reach my dream of being a “proper” author (i.e: that I can support my family from my writing) and being able to write full time without worrying about the finances.

To do that, I have to be as prolific as possible.

I’ve made a good start; two children’s books in Print, a Story Collection and a story series in E-book. However, that isn’t enough. I have so many books lying unread in my hard drive, the characters crying because they’re not being read by people other than me. True, I need to edit a few of them and there are more unfinished projects than finished ones… it’s sad really.

And this is where the Internet gets in the way. Unless I am using it in a specific way (writing blog posts, researching or publishing a book), having Facebook up is a constant drain on my time. For example, it was 10 am when I read that article… now it’s nearly 11 am and even though I’ve written this post, I know from past experience that I’ll end up wasting more time on Facebook after I’ve posted it!

Time to stop procrastinating, ban the internet between 10 am and 2pm and get on with my career!

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10 thoughts on “Is Technology the Enemy of the Writer?

  1. silentnovelist says:

    I hear you and with all my heart I agree. I’d like to stop and write more but you’ll understand the reasons why I’m not going to do that. 😉

  2. courseofmirrors says:

    When I’m really into writing I become totally unsociable, on-line and off-line. Catching up after spending decades doing things for others. Yet if I hadn’t been a parent, or been involved with many groups and many projects, the material for my writing would be impoverished. My case for mature writers 🙂

  3. Paul Trembling says:

    I know just what you mean, Mandy – especially about the pile of half-finished (or in some cases half-started!) stories hanging around on my hard drive! The next big project is to finish off some of the other projects….

    I’ll get round to it, sometime when I’m not reading blogs or going on FB or even actually wasting time!

  4. May says:

    First of all I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you
    don’t mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing.

    I’ve had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
    I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be
    wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints?

    Cheers!

    • Kira Morgana says:

      I have exactly the same trouble. Most of the time, I try to avoid social media and think about what I am writing, reading over what I have previously done and sooner or later, the words start flowing.

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