Break time! (De-assimilating from the Internet collective)
Because I am insane, I decided to join a Facebook group in which I commit to blogging each day for 365 days. (Full disclosure: I tend to write blog posts here in groups, where I build up a bit of an inventory, then back off a little bit. Although there’s new content every day–and I write a lot of it–I don’t blog every day.)
The goal of the exercise is to create an accountability group where you write every day. It’s what we do. We’re writers, hoo-RAH!
In discussing the challenge ahead of us, one person said that other than breathing and peeing, she wasn’t sure what she did every day. Someone else said sleeping and eating. I said I’m pretty sure I swear at least once every day. Some people pray every day. And someone else said Facebook and e-mail.
Aha! Ground for a blog post.
One of the things I will try at some point this year is to have Internet-free days, or at least Internet-free day parts. When we went on a cruise last fall, there was (gasp!) no Internet. When I got in an elevator, there was no e-mail to check. While I was writing, I was unable to flip over to Facebook and see what the world had moved onto. The thought made me uneasy–and not being able to switch over was a distraction at first. After all, many people with day jobs are required, to one degree or another, to be on top of the e-mail and to be available for IMs. It feels odd not to be, almost like there’s a limb missing.
It’s like we’ve really become the Borg, Star Trek’s fictional society in which people are assimilated into a collective and constantly wired to and taking direction from that collective. The only thing we lack is the intrusive hardware. (Then again, there’s a certain similarity between Bluetooth and Borg hardware.)
This constant wiring can be bad for writing. Writing is writing. Checking a score, or your e-mail, or seeing who’s beating whom in SongPop (a Facebook game) is not writing. Typing 140 characters is usually writing the way walking to the refrigerator is exercise. Technically, it is, but it’s not going to help you meet your goals.
A few of the writers I stalk, err, follow on Facebook periodically cleanse themselves of the Internet. Romantic suspense writer JT Ellison comes to mind. Each Lent, she sharply limits her online time. It must work, because she does it just about every year.
So as we’re still early in the year, perhaps it would be good to consider an Internet-free time for writing. Maybe it’s Tuesday evenings, or every weeknight from 7-8 pm, or Sunday afternoons. Turn off the little switch on the laptop that enables wifi. Unplug the ethernet cable. Turn your cell phone off.
The world got by for centuries without you being instantly available. It can make due for a few hours a week.