The author/internet relationship is never easy.
As a writer, I love the Internet. There is no better tool for researching even the most minute of details. I needed a timeline of cell phone development – when did they become commonplace? When did texting become the most prevalent form of communication? At what point did a camera become standard on a smartphone? When did phones become smart?
The novel I am working on now scans decades, and It was only a couple chapters in that I recalled cell phones were not widely used prior to the 90s, and texting and connectivity came even later. A quick Google search returned a number of results that gave me the details I needed. Did you know that the Nokia 3510, released in 2001, had a functional calendar, and an FM radio? Très cool …
It is so convenient to be able to find the menu of a particular restaurant, an exotic vacation destination, or the name of an interior design technique without ever leaving your desk. You are already at your computer, because it is here that a writer works. It allows you to keep the rhythm of your writing while not requiring a come back to this notation. “1978,” you can type with confidence, “was the year of the Great Blizzard.”
On the other hand …
As a writer, I hate the Internet. It is so damn shiny! It is so easy to be distracted from the task at hand. So many ways to veer off track and waste some time! There is social media (FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram and more!), news, videos, cooking sites, travel sites, history, humor, pictures, shopping, books, discussion forums from a-z, pages with lists of links to things you never even knew you wanted to look at, and CATS! So many cats!
And all that is before you’ve even opened the file containing your current project!
Even when you are really working you can be so easily sidetracked! For instance, for this article, I found myself scanning articles and looking at old pictures of the snowstorm that paralyzed Michigan in 1978. That was a helluva storm! Or when researching cell phones, I read about the Motorola Razr, and remembered when I had one, I hacked it so I could use my own ringtone … which led to finding the song, which reminded me of another song … and next thing I know, I’ve spent 45 minutes listening to old songs I love on youtube.
While it’s true I do get a giggle out of telling people that part of my job is scrolling through endless picture of hot guys, this can be a serious pitfall. Go to the Adobe stock photography site, and do a search for “sexy man” You’ll see what I mean! I don’t consider that time wasted, by any means, as marketing is part of our job, and a romance writer needs pictures, but certainly it can be a distraction (albeit a super pleasant one).
So what is the solution? I do not know. Most days, I can put my blinders on, and stay focused. Other days, I strike an acceptable balance.
Then there are the days I am so completely distracted, I wonder if I should be writing a retro sci-fi story about what the Great Blizzard of ’78 would have been like if hot guys had cell phones back then …