It’s a time suck, I know. But it’s also one of the most rewarding inventions, too.
It’s the Internet. The World Wide Web.
My bane. My curse. My favorite resource.
Think about it. At just the touch of a few buttons, a few strokes of the keypad, you can open the door to a world of news, education, and entertainment on the Internet. Yes, there is a lot of nonsense and a lot more distractions and, unfortunately, I am prey to them just as much as the next guy. But I try not to let myself get carried away by the nonsense.
The key is to be selective and to be mindful of the time you have for surfing.
In many cases, just glancing at a headline is enough to glean all you want about a subject. If you must read further, there’s nothing to say you have to read it right then and there. I often bookmark the page and put it in a To Read folder. Then, if I find I still want to read it at some point, I know where it is and I can call it up at a time more suitable to my schedule.
I think part of what I like best about the Internet is the chance of discovery it represents. The breadth and scope of stories on the Internet provides an endless buffet of ideas and information to be devoured. I say ideas because oftentimes that’s how I look at what I am reading: as a potential idea to inspire a new short story or novel. In recent weeks, I’ve been inspired by articles about beached whales and noise-canceling headphones. Both topics are potential story ideas that I am working on.
And then there is the pure education factor of the Internet. Where else can you log on and get access to free columns, advice, tips and even webinars on virtually anything? In my case, I am constantly finding fascinating, informative articles and videos about writing and screenwriting, many of them right here on wordpress.com. Today, for instance, I found several great posts by blogger MJ Wright about essential writing skills. I stumbled upon a blog by Steve Feek on how to Write A Screenplay in 70 Days. I also came across a cool series of video lessons from writer-actor-director James Franco on writing a short screenplay. And there’s an online film festival where you can watch free shorts and even vote on them throughout this month.
Yes, if you allow it to be. But if you set a limit on your online time, say thirty minutes or an hour each day, you can still learn a lot and still have plenty of time for writing. Like I said, bookmark what you can’t get to for another time. If you don’t return to it, maybe you weren’t really interested in it in the first place. Time has a way or re-prioritizing what’s important.
How do you feel about the Internet? Time suck or invaluable resource? Is it an endless distraction to writing? How do you keep it from getting the better of you? Share your thoughts in the comment section.