Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, March 31, 2006

Don't get tangled in the World Wide Web

I recently saw a post by someone that they spent three hours reading blogs. I couldn't believe those words: Three hours reading blogs! Not writing, editing or submitting. (Though I have to wonder about the writer who spends three hours submitting queries/materials...) In truth, I'm not surprised someone could spend three hours reading blogs. There are blogs EVERYWHERE! I've come across so many I've started putting recent finds into my monthly update. Plus, some blogs can be pretty darn useful, offering information the writer would ordinarily use as an article, chapter or even a lecture.

But blogs are just one of the distractions facing connected writers these days. I may only post on this blog at MINIMUM of once a week (sometimes I forget to post here at all!). But during the rest of the week, I'm reading OTHER blogs in addition to the many other things I do while I'm online. I once told a good friend of mine that I was tired of the Internet taking up all of my time and he conceded that it's not exactly a profitable tool to put ALL of my writing energy into. Yes, it DOES have its strong points in helping writers get published, educated and promoted, but after comparing the input/output rate of my Internet activities to real life activities, well... let's just say I was not a happy camper.

The Internet is truly an unlimited world to learn things in. A playground for the aspiring writer. An escape for the frazzled, overworked and underpaid writer. And a promotional tool for the entrepreneur! But it still has its downsides.

We hear all about people getting addicted to the Internet and how Internet addiction has wrecked marriages/families. It can also serve as a time-waster.

A lot of people who are supposed to work online tend to do other activities like chat or play online games. The temptation to goof off is SO EASY, especially since, gasp! No one will know. It's just between you and your computer.

I've noticed this drawback in my own online time. I'm not saying you SHOULDN'T use the Internet to relax with or communicate with others. But I truly feel that there is a temptation to get too distracted or sidetracked with all the World Wide Web has to offer, and you've got to discipline yourself to make sure you don't let that happen.

If you don't have a lot of time to spend online, it's important to watch out that you don't get sucked into the Internet's distracting, hypnotic grasp.
Some things you can try to avoid this:

--Make it a rule to do the IMPORTANT things the minute you get online. Check your e-mail, pitch work or conduct research, interviews, etc.

--Make a list of important things you need to get done online and tackle a few of them each time you get to sit down for some online time.

--Reward yourself for completing important online tasks. Don't devote your entire online time to work; give yourself a breather and do some of those other fun things now that you've taken care of the important stuff.

--Don't try to do everything in one sitting. Believe me, I have tried this myself, Monday through Friday. The result? Being online for several hours, which was pretty much an inconvenience for me.

--Time yourself. Give yourself a half hour to do one task, one hour to do another task, etc. If you don't set up a timeframe for your tasks, the temptation to get distracted is all the more too hard to resist.

--Make sure you let others know that when you're online, you can't goof off. Not until you get the important jobs done first, anyway. You don't have time to chat, play games or send emails back and forth just yet. It's better to give everybody the heads-up instead of shutting them all out.

--Take some "time off" from your writing work. I make it a rule to do absolutely NO writing work on the weekends, just writing! Use your "day(s)" off to use your online time for fun and leisure.

With a behemoth like the World Wide Web at your fingertips, it's easy to get a little sidetracked. The worst part? It's often hard to tell that you ARE being sidetracked. Try using the ideas above (which I myself use) and see just how much more work you actually start getting DONE when you're online.


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