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Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Worldwide Web of Distraction

I’m sitting at my computer to write this article and a jingle alerts me that I have email. Ignoring the sound and the urge to visit Entourage (Outlook for Mac), I still manage to see who the mail is coming from as it floats in and out at the corner of my computer screen. Then my yahoo smiling face pops up from the dock below to inform me someone is IMing.( In my world, Instant Message has taken the place of the phone). I answer and chat for a few minutes. I admit, sometimes when the situation is serious, it could be a couple of hours. Most of the time, though, my friends are happy to sit in their virtual cubicles next to me as we attempt to write without so much as a peep.

But now that I’ve caved and responded to one of these miracles of communication technology, I have to read that email as well as any others that have come in the last fifteen minutes, or at least since the last time I checked. I’m great at multi-tasking, so keep in mind that I can instant message, read email and write, all at the same time. And while I’m at it, I might as well see who has stopped by my blog, how long they stayed and what they read (same for the website), then check to see how many profile views I’ve had at Shoutlife. Last and most desperate, I check to see how many people have subscribed to my newsletter today.

Right about now, I’m reminded of the movie Waterboy with Adam Sandler. His mother would have this to say, “Internet, IM, email. . .it’s the DEBIL,” with her infamous b replacing the v.

In my opinion, this has evolved from a symptom of writer’s block (procrastination) to a full-fledged disease of its own. An addiction, if you will.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not knocking the internet. I see it as an extremely valuable tool. I credit the internet with networking, with my first writing contract, and other writing-related opportunities, none of which would have happened without the internet. But like anything good, it can be used for evil.

If any of the above dysfunctions ring true for you, please seek help. Or follow the next few tips regarding internet-related distractions.

1) Resolve to do internet-related business such as email at certain times of the day, not during writing time. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, then
2) Unplug the internet. If you can’t do it because you research while you write, then
3) Turn off email and IM. TURN IT OFF. If you can’t do it because you have to run a concept or a grammar question by one of your writing buddies then
4) Those are all excuses. Take your computer to a NO WI-FI zone. There are still a few restaurants and cafes that don’t have wi-fi.
5) Last and most important, if all else fails, invest in a word processing device such as an Alpha Smart Neo.

The first step, of course, is admitting that you have a problem. You’ve heard this before. I believe that I’ve taken a big step in my own writing life by writing this article. It forced me to realize what I was doing with my writing time. Focus is the key. If you want to be productive, then create a writing environment free from distractions, especially the internet kind



Blogger ahmad wiyono said...

i love this blog! keep up good works. See you again..

11:11 AM  

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