There are many dangers the internet holds, not only for writers but for creative people overall.
Photo Credit: Kaboompics
A life online
In today’s time and age we can’t imagine a world without the internet.
We are connected to it with all sorts of devices. Be it our computer, our smartphone or tablet, the internet is always just a click away. The list goes on though, more and more devices these days are able to connect to the internet.
Our personal lives too would be much different without it. We spend more time online than we did ever before. We rely more and more on online marketplaces like Amazon for our daily shopping needs. Thanks to smartphones and Wi-Fi we are always connected and available. We chat via WhatsApp, like and share things on Facebook, post pictures of Instagram and quickly check on Google if we don’t know something.
Take just a moment and think about it. How much time do you actually spend online or in front of the screen?
Problems due to the Internet
The first thing we should all realize is that the internet should be a tool. It was created to make sharing and transferring information easier and to connect people. With social media, online games and many other things, it has by now developed into a sort of second reality. The key word here is indulgence. We don’t simply use the internet anymore to get information, but instead we indulge in it. Many people spend their limited free time online, browsing the internet.
This holds many problems for aspiring writers:
We aren’t looking at the world around us anymore:
As a writer we get most of our material and the things we write about from the world around us. So looking at the world is a requirement of being a writer.
The problem is that we don’t do it anymore. We are too busy being online on our smartphones, chatting or spending time on social media. Even when we had the time to actually slow down a little, because we have to wait for our train to arrive, we spend these few minutes online.
Even on the weekends or our days off, when we had the chance to actually go outside and go for a walk, we again stay at the computer. We spend what little valuable free time we have not looking for beauty in the world, but online.
The result is that our creativity dries up and we can’t seem to get new ideas. We are missing any sort of new input or material. While the internet can be a substitute it is not one for real experiences.
We waste more time procrastinating:
The internet is a dream for every procrastinator. Believe me I know it best. Without the internet there are only so many things you can do to put off you work. At some point in time you are so bored, that you will actually start your work. Not so with the internet. There are countless numbers of interesting, funny and even thought provoking things that you can spend your time with.
Even worse though is that with the internet you can procrastinate under the guise of actually doing important work. I talked about my own experiences when I talked about excessive planning as opposed to taking action. The fact is that we can tell ourselves that we need to do some more research. We have to read all these blog posts about the setting for our novel and we have to look up all those information on crime investigations, right?
It is often the case thought that we are overdoing it, to push our writing off. Only do as much preparation as is absolutely necessary and then write. It is often the case that you can do research on the go while writing the first draft.
You can find almost endless information only topic online. What this can lead to in a young writer, is a sort of paralysis.
First of all there is the sheer number on information and material regarding creative writing. You can probably spend a lifetime reading about creative writing, literary styles, art forms and so on, without ever writing a single line of fiction. It is important here again, that learning about writing is never a substitute for writing. So sit down and actually write.
It can also paralyze you when you are trying to find ideas or information on an idea you have. On the internet we can often find just so many interesting tales, people or stories that we could write about, that it is hard to decide which one to pick. It can lead to us jumping from one idea to the next from one day to another.
Loss of Patience:
This is something I noticed in myself as well. Because of the internet and Google we can find answers to our questions and all sorts of information in just a few clicks. We are not used to waiting and having patience anymore. It is frustrating to us, whenever we have to wait just a few minutes more. What we want are instant results.
This train of thought can be bad for an aspiring writer. Writing never happens instantly. It takes time. You need to learn the craft, work on a story to make it good and then you also have to work on making a name for yourself. This will often take a long time. What we want instead though are instant results and instant recognition.
It doesn’t help either that in today’s media success stories are always tailored to have happened instantly or overnight.
Not everyone lives online
Now obviously these things are not true for everyone. It would be a very bad case of generalization if I’d say that we are all constantly glued to our phone’s screen.
The truth is that there are many people who know about the dangers of the internet. The fact is though that it is often people who learned from their own mistakes. It is often the case that many young aspiring writers don’t know about the dangers of the internet or don’t take them serious.
I think it is very important to learn about and know about these dangers though.
The Way Out
Now the first idea would be to simply disconnect yourself from the internet, sell your smartphone and never go online again.
Now this is obviously a little too extreme an idea. The internet has many advantages for a writer that just can’t be ignored.
Instead you should simply make it clear to yourself that the internet is just a tool. Nowadays though, we forget this and spend more and more time online.
As a writer you should use the internet as nothing but a tool. Use it to find the information you need and to connect with interesting and inspiring people. Other than that, you should spend most of your time either writing or going out into the real world.