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Miranda: Surf and turf

laptop2I imagine that most of us would admit to spending more time on the internet than we “should,” at least on occasion. Some months ago I turned off the automatic “check e-mail” schedule in Outlook, but really all that means is that I obsessively hit “send/receive” during any moment of down time or transition. And then there are all the websites and blogs I visit regularly. Some of them are related to creativity, but many aren’t. I have to keep an eye on the political news, and I’m on Facebook at least once a day. For reasons that I haven’t fully understood, I also visit celebrity/gossip websites, embarrassing as that is to admit.

Of course, surfing can be useful and inspiring. The internet helps us stay connected to the virtual creative network that is truly important to many creative women. Staying connected is a great way to remember that you ARE a creative person. Rubbing elbows, even virtual ones, with other creative types is often inspiring and motivating. (Hence our group affection for this blog.)

Sometimes I do get sick of my laptop, and set it aside for a day, but when I’m supposed to be working (as in, paying for childcare), I’m at my weakest. I know that most of the time I spend on the internet (and to some extent, e-mail) is pretty much a waste of time. I could definitely condense my daily surf round, and still keep up with everything I’m interested in. But I go back to certain sites repeatedly, throughout the day–clearly procrastinating. Especially these days, when I really do NOT feel like working. And it’s so inefficient to constantly interrupt myself to check e-mail or read another blog. Why not just get the work done, and THEN enjoy the R&R?

Lately I’ve been thinking of purchasing a wireless-free AlphaSmart Dana, because I like the idea of a machine that’s really an electronic typewriter. I simply don’t have the will power to turn off my internet connection while I’m working–be it “work work” or the creative stuff. But then I tell myself I shouldn’t be spending money when I could simply just hit the network button on the machine I already own.

How to balance the good of the internet with the bad of wasting time that could otherwise be spent on creativity? And while I’m procrastinating (ahem), what websites and blogs do you visit on a daily basis? (Feed the beast!)

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. I read this and feel like I’ve just been “outed” as far as my secret of using the Internet as a procrastination tool is concerned. I read the first sentence, then said to myself, “Well, at least she doesn’t turn off the auto function and then hit send/receive every 30 seconds like I do…” Then laughed aloud at the next sentence (after pausing to check my email, of course), and felt much less alone in the world.

    Maybe we should start a support group and website online, thereby giving us another excuse to check our email and visit our website and…oh, never mind. I should probably just get back to work.

    My new favorite blog is this:

    This site is pretty cool, too. Glad I found it!

    March 27, 2008
  2. Funny you should write about this… I actually just went through my blog aggregator and purged about 100 blogs. I had gotten to a point where I was just skimming them, not absorbing their information, and I never commented. So I deleted many lit agent blogs, many other things about the writing industry, many writer blogs, and ended with those I do comment regularly on and those I consider friends. I still get useful info and it’s easier to absorb – plus I don’t spend so much time clicking on new links. I think now my connections will grow deeper!

    March 27, 2008
  3. Hey jimsmuse–welcome! I’m glad I’m not the only one who does ridiculous things when it comes to procrastination. (Honestly, sometimes I think I should hire another babysitter–for myself!) Hope to hear more from you 🙂

    March 27, 2008
  4. There are a couple of websites and blogs I frequent every day (this one and being the most common distractions). The thing that takes up a lot of my time is going off on wierd internet tangents as ideas pop into my head. I’ll be writing away, for instance, and will decide that a character needs to visit an old fashioned soda fountain, but that I need to see pictures of one in order to describe it… that will take me to websites about soda fountains, which might lead to research about malted milk recipes, which leads me to questions about what malt is exactly, to who invented malt balls…. it goes on and on all day.

    I, too, have considered getting an alpha smart, but I’ve decided my writing would suffer. I have to consciously add exposition to my writing and at least the little tangents I go on add some flavor to my stories.

    I’m also a horrible email addict and have to check it at least every thirty minutes. I know deep down I’m not that popular, but whenever I do get a really meaty email from a friend, it energizes me for the rest of the day.

    March 27, 2008
  5. I forgot to mention that I am so obsessed with email that I leave both my Outlook and my Gmail open all day long so I can see email as soon as it comes in (when I’m not pressing the send/receive and refresh buttons).

    March 27, 2008
  6. bluestalking #

    I’m admittedly AWFUL at getting distracted by the internet. I’m at my wit’s end dealing with me!!

    Ironically, just today I was listing my distractions as a means of potentially scheduling “free play time” for myself when I can check email, surf, etc. without guilt. The problem is when something pops into my head I want to Google it right then and there. I have no self-restraint at all. And email? I keep two browsers open all the doggone time.


    I have no good answers for how to manage this on an everyday basis, but I do have a suggestion for going on retreat. I like a place a couple hours from me that has NO INTERNET SERVICE. I bring my computer but it’s only usable as a word processor. Then I get some writing done!

    But otherwise? I’m hopeless.


    April 1, 2008
  7. Ditto. Totally hopeless.

    I’m also one of those who keeps two email accounts minimized, so that I can check them, but even then I can not stay on top of it all. I am typically obsessively organized about most things, but my big shameful secret (for all the world to read about on this blog!) is that I currently have about 200 unread emails and about 800 or 900 read-but-just-sitting-there emails lingering, waiting to be sorted, read, replied to, or deleted. I keep thinking, I’ll leave it in my inbox and get to it when I have time, and then of course, there is no time to be had.

    Ack, I need an intervention!

    Brittany, I love your description of research tangents! 🙂

    I visit the blogs on my Damian Daily blogroll, as well as a few writers’ sites and results of various random blog tag searches. If people comment on my blog, I try to check out and sometimes comment on their blogs too.

    April 1, 2008
  8. Fortunately, I’m not a surfer dude. I use the internet mostly for looking up trivial things my brain just needs to know. But I am an e-mail freak. When a message comes in, it’s a connection to another human being, and when you’re working at home alone, that connection feels so good. That’s why some of us are like lab rats pawing at the switch to get the treat.

    OTOH, I have also learned that I write a lot even when I procrastinate. As long as I stay in front of the computer with my fingers on the keyboard and a document open, something is going to get written no matter what I do. (It’s a little like magic.) So maybe you just need to forgive yourself your transgressions, try to cut back a little on the random surfing, and keep going.

    Does it help to have someone else in the room to keep you honest? 😉

    April 10, 2008

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