Ah, the Internet

Do you remember when there was no Internet?

Part of me enjoys asking that kind of question. Sure, it dates me. It dates all of us, depending on how you answer it. And at the risk of sounding romantic, I miss that simple world, before telnet (first user group and email I used), before Netscape (my first browser), and certainly before Google (my current search engine).

I started writing two years ago, well after our computer became an electronic family member.  And I’ve been curious lately as to how different the process of writing, and finding an agent, and generally trying to make a living out of this art would be if I had started this ten years ago.

I couldn’t just pop over to Wikipedia and check on some fact about 17th century Suriname nor could I learn of new agents and their interests so promptly. Often times I am thankful that this abstract web of connections exists—it can be very helpful.

But I wonder:

Does the Internet suck my energy?

Many writers could no doubt claim the Internet or something that they read online to be the inspiration for their amazing debut novel coming next fall.  Accomplished writers might say the same for the success of their 15th manuscript. But what is the flip side to having something amounting to an edgeless universe as a distraction?

I admit that when I’m writing I will occasionally (wink, wink) check email or Facebook or YouTube or whatever, really. Is that better than staring at the point where the wall hits the ceiling in search of inspiration? I don’t think so. More often than not, it pulls me away from my characters and their stories. But I haven’t found a way yet to work around this. Anyone have a typewriter they can lend me?

Have you been a writer since the Internet became ubiquitous? How did that shift affect your writing and career? Do you have tips on how to effectively turn off access to this kind of distraction?

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