June 21, 2014

Damn you, Internet!

The Internet is one of the greatest inventions in my lifetime. It makes so many things easier to do: researching a topic, ordering a book, connecting with friends I haven't seen face-to-face in years. But it's also my worst enemy when it comes to trying to get things done.

During the week, my golden period for getting "author-y" work done is the hour and a half between 4:30 am (when I wake up) and 6:00 am (when I start to get ready for my day job). But before I start to write, I check my author email account, social networks, blogs I follow, etc. Two years ago, that took about 10 minutes. Nowadays, it can take up the entire hour and a half. Part of the reason is that I've gotten to know other authors and readers, so there's more to read and respond to. (There are people who actually want to communicate with me!) If that was the only reason, I'd still finish my pre-writing routine in about half an hour.

The problem is that when the Internet was invented, they made it really easy to jump from one web page to another. Throw in search engines and social media, and you can reach just about any web page from any other through a series of links. So when I see a fellow author tweet about an interesting blog article, for example, I may read the article, only to find that it's linked to two other articles that I want to read, and so on.

If the Internet were a cigarette manufacturer, I'd say it was making itself addictive on purpose. However, since no one owns the Internet, I can only blame myself. I've tried to wean myself off spending so much time on the web, but it's a tough thing to do. I don't know if there's any going back. Maybe I need to start picking a different writing schedule. Or just wake up earlier than 4:30. I really don't know of a good way to reclaim my time, and maybe I won't. But the first step in overcoming your problem is admitting it, right? Anyone else get sucked into the Internet for longer than they want to? How do you deal with it?

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