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Hooked on the Internet

cartoon owl reading a book illustrating article about writers who are hooked on the netAnother very common problem for writers and non-writers is feeling they are ‘hooked on the net.’ The amount of hours the Internet can steal from right under our noses doesn’t bear thinking about.

In fact, I can’t bear thinking about it – myself.  I admit that sometimes I just can’t avoid peeking at Facebook, or doing some ‘research’ on an interesting site that leads me to another and another. In other words I’m hooked on the net!

So what do I do?  Well, I try really hard not to go on to the Internet until the evening. This works brilliantly – most of the time.

However, it was a little bit more difficult when I started developing this blog. Then I had to be on the Internet and I had to do lots of research. Now I had an excuse…

TOO MUCH INFORMATION?

There were so many great ‘how to’ sites out there, that there were times when I felt overwhelmed with too much information.

To cope with this I decided to narrow it down. I realized that although there are lots of great sites out there it was mainly two sites that I kept going back to.

Once I made the decision to use their information and follow their advice I became a lot less confused.

I still spend a lot of time on the net but when I am writing, I am writing – only. When I am working on my site then I am on the net. I have to be careful not to mix the two.

Now, although I do have to limit my Internet time I am lucky I am motivated enough to do so. Like anyone hooked on the net, I do slip sometimes but nobody’s perfect – so what the hell!

CAN YOU SWITCH IT OFF?

Some people are unable to ‘switch it off.’ Some writers feel they are addicted. Even famous, successful writers like Nick Hornby, who wrote one of my favourite films:  About A Boy, says he uses ‘Freedom’ to block his Internet Access.

White Teeth writer, Zadie Smith, said recently that she found herself so distracted that she also used ‘Freedom.’

All you have to do is tell it how long you need to be offline and it switches it off. If you need to get switched back on before the allotted time you have to reboot.  Presumably the idea is you won’t bother doing this unless it is really important. Or you could…

woman writing illustrating an article about writers who are hooked on the netWRITE BY HAND

Other writers such as Will Self have advised writers to write by hand or on a typewriter like he does. Great for him but, personally, I spent a lot of time in manual typewriter land and I am never going back, never!

 WRITER’S FASHIONS

Jonathan Franzen is even more extreme – he says he wrote one of my favourite books of all time: ‘The Corrections’ while wearing earmuffs and a blindfold!

If you can’t see through a blindfold and don’t want to look like a total trainspotter (though, let’s face it, who cares what you look like when you write like Jonathan Franzen) but still cannot resist the lure of social networking, then be like Franzen and Smith and try Freedom. This should quickly put a stop to your social gallop.

If you just want to prevent access at specific times of the day there is K9.  This is a free download and might be best known for its parental control application, however you can also filter away temptations – for yourself.

The application formerly known as Chrome Nanny – Google Chrome, is also very useful. This blocks certain URLs and you can time this for specific times of day, so you could, for example, block Facebook from 8am to 7pm.

One way you can stop being hooked on the net is just not to go on-line when you should be writing, but is that just too easy?

Good luck with your writing.

Grace

For more writers resources that I find useful just click here.

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