Shooting Myself in the Foot

I’m about to make a counter-intuitive statement:
In my humble opinion, the Internet may be the worst enemy you’ll ever face as a writer.
I hear your gasps! How can I say this when I’m using the Internet to convey the message?!

Yes, the Internet can be a writer’s best friend, serving as a source of background information, facts, and guidance on tricky things like spelling, grammar, alternate wordings, marketing information and so forth.

The Internet can also be the most seductive, addictive distraction we’ll ever face. It may be worse than drugs and alcohol. I speak from extensive personal experience. How easy it is to follow links, especially from one blog to another. How easy it is to succumb to the temptation to read “just one more” helpful article, or to surf through a forum or reader board. How comforting it feels to seek advice and solace from Kindred Spirits in on-line groups, e-zines and such places. Why, I might even find other writers and send e-mails back and forth exploring intentions to write.

The game players among us (you know who you are) can’t get through the day without a Sudoku or three, maybe even five. Crosswords are good for my brain, experts say. My all-time favorite, Bejeweled, as far as I can tell,
has no redeeming value at all. Ditto for all forms of Solitaire, Tetris and similar time traps.

The evils listed above are bad enough, but there is one that can be even worse: The enervation of finding something close to your own ideas already out there in cyberspace. Few things are harder on my ego than discovering my thoughts aren't as original as they seemed.

Why do we follow the siren's song into these sinkholes of precious time? Time that we could spend writing something fresh and original?

Because writing is hard work. It can be painful. It can be confusing. It’s often hateful and distressing, and sometimes I feel as if I’m spinning my wheels and writing the same thing over and over, and anything feels better than writing when I'm feeling that way ... except at the end of the day when I look at a blank page that greeted the day in the splendor of naked opportunity, and ends the same day in that same state of nakedness. Only now, rather than glorious potential, it bears the shame of wasted potential. Then I feel even worse.

If the words above resonate even a little bit in your soul, use the next paragraph as a combination self-diagnostic and affirmation.
Why am I surfing around getting drunk and sated on the words of others rather than writing my own? I keep finding repeats of my story and talking myself out of writing because it's already been said, but their words are not MY STORY!
One page. Just one page. I’ll write one page today.

You’ve read this blog. That’s good. That’s about writing. (I have to aim a bit off-center, lest I lose my standing place in Cyberspace.) Now, be brave. Click the X to close your browser and e-mail. Get your fingers off that mouse and onto the keyboard, and Just Write — Now!

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal


ybonesy said...

It had to be said! Well done. Now I'm going to take your advice and shut down this addiction.

QuoinMonkey said...

I can totally relate to this post. It's true - it can be addictive and seductive. And it can be wonderful in the community and sharing of ideas that it offers.

It's a big responsibility to keep up a site like this with great content and support for other writers. So much time and energy. (I had no idea until we launched our own site!)

I just want to say, thanks. People are noticing. You are making a difference.

And now I'm going to head out to the garden to do a little digging in the dirt. I wrote a couple of writing practice pieces on that last week - gardening is grounding. I'm heading outside.