Julia’s post below does a great job of pointing out the distraction factor of internet technology and social networks like Facebook and My Space. But what about our blog here on WordPress? Isn’t that a technological distraction as well? We have committed to writing at least one post per week each. Sometimes those posts can be written in half an hour; others take several hours. (Writers are perfectionists after all.) So yes, maintaining this blog does distract from our regular writing schedules. But unlike posting a personal update on Facebook (What are you doing right now?) or a new photo spread of our latest vacation (as if either of us has time for that), our posts here on the Grassroots Writers’ Guild are career oriented. With a few exceptions (mostly mine, sadly), our posts relate to something or someone in the writing field. In addition, they are constructed in readable English complete with punctuation and correct spelling. While I have abbreviated words or skipped capital letters and commas now and then while composing a text on my phone, I wouldn’t think of writing that way here on this blog, or even on my Facebook page, which, incidentally, I haven’t used in at least three months.
But I digress. The point I want to make today is that there is nothing wrong with spending time on Facebook or My Space or even Twitter, as long as that time is free time, meaning you have already put in your writing work for the day. As Julia said, self-discipline is the name of the game.
That isn’t to say we should bar ourselves from the internet while we write. Obviously the net is a vast source of information available at our fingertips for free. To ignore that bounty would be insane for any writer. We can research nearly any subject by typing a few words into a search engine, which is a heck of a lot faster than hopping into our cars and driving to the nearest library. When I was working on Elvis Presley, Richard Nixon, and the American Dream in the late 90s, I did perhaps ten percent of my research on line. For Hoop Lore (published in 2007) that percentage was over fifty. But research is to Facebook like apples are to lumber. An apple comes from a tree, but what are the odds you will ever trace that tree to your local lumber yard? (This apple, as it turns out, does fall quite a long way from the tree.)
Writing and the internet make a great team as long as we remember to separate the business end of our writing careers from the personal one. While the two can be mixed to a point, as Julia and I have done on this blog, the point remains a very fine line.