Jo’s Journal: The Pros and Cons of Internet Access for Writers
From the perspective of a GenXer who survived before the internet
by Joanne Troppello
We are all so dependent on the Internet. According to a study completed by researchers at Stanford University:
“Around 14% of the people who were surveyed for the study claimed that they were unable to stay away from the internet — and they used it to get over their negative mood.”
Techspirited.com statistics reported the following:
“In America, out of an estimated 200 million internet users, nearly 10% are suffering from internet addiction disorder. The number of internet addicts is increasing every year at the rate of 25%.”
My writing experience pre-internet
I’m dating myself, but I remember the days back in the early 1990’s when I had to submit short stories to magazine editors through “snail mail” and include a SASE — self-addressed stamped envelope when only mostly computer companies had websites.
I had purchased each new edition of the Writer’s Market so that I could read the guidebook to find out where I should send my next short story or manuscript — and what each magazine editor or publisher was specifically looking for. This guidebook is still available today. However, now you can easily ascertain submission requirements online.
These days, life is more streamlined for writers. However, it can be difficult trying to stand out from the crowded field of people publishing articles and blogs online.
Surviving a day without the internet
So, what’s a writer supposed to do when their Internet connection is lost, and they can’t get online? Depending on how long the internet connection is down for, the withdrawal symptoms will vary.
1. No more Facebook access
You can’t spend the morning scrolling down the newsfeed. What a disaster. Although, that would be the perfect time to get back to working on your next blog post or manuscript!
2. Forget about updating Twitter
Will the world get by without knowing what you ate for breakfast or how your exercise workout went or what show you’re binge watching on Netflix?
3. No access to update your blog
Of course, your faithful followers are waiting with bated breath for your daily blog. Can they survive the day if you don’t publish your next post?
4. Email’s down
Now you can’t respond to the growing list of unread emails that you haven’t had time to catch up on reading during the week since you’ve been too busy catching up with everyone on Facebook and Twitter.
5. Endless news cycle
No new dose of fake news, oh, I mean real news on all those media sites you like to scroll through when you really should be working on that copywriting assignment. Forget about watching the news on TV. Who even has cable or watches local channels anymore!? Doesn’t everyone stream their shows through Hulu, Netflix, Play Station Vue, DirecTV Now, and now YouTube TV? Which you can’t do today anyway since your Internet connection is down!
6. No online marketing
Guess you won’t be doing any online marketing for your latest book. No visiting reader chat rooms or browsing online writing groups on Facebook.
Now back to reality
I’m a Gen-Xer who has experienced life before the internet and I can see differences today. Many of us are addicted to being online. Speaking from experience, I check my phone often to see notifications from emails and texts — and wasting time scrolling through social media sites. We live in a fear of missing out (FOMO).
We should ask ourselves how much time we’re wasting online and how little time we’re actually creating something — like writing more articles, blog posts, short stories, novellas, and novels.
In one of my recent articles in the Illumination publication, I wrote about my journey from wasting too much time on social media — especially Twitter — and starting to write more consistently again.
I am part of this culture that is addicted to the Internet.
Sure, the internet can be a powerful resource for writers. I used Google many times when I researched for my last two books and every time I work on articles or blog posts.
This has been one of the nice changes compared to the days when I wrote papers in high school, college, and my early days as a freelancer before researching on Google was available. I had to visit the library to research facts for those writing assignments and when I started writing my first book in high school — which never got published until years later, and after several intense edit sessions.
Google Research is a great tool available to help users find invaluable educational information on advances in technology and projections for the future. The researchers from Google share technological discoveries that can impact our future. The researchers are authorities in their field and have been consistently published in academic journals.
Google Scholar provides academic articles and case law on topics with information provided by reputable sources like the CDC, JAMA, NEJM, Lancet, BMJ, and medRxiv.
The internet is a wonderful tool for marketing your books and branding your name as an author. It’s a great avenue to get connected to other authors and writers and make connections that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. It has provided the platform for indie authors to get self-published through services like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.
As a freelance copywriter, there have been various changes in how I acquired work over the last twenty years. I concede that the internet has been invaluable in helping me find consistent copywriting assignments through job search sites like Indeed.
I have enjoyed the benefits of working from home for companies like Content Writers and Constant Content. I get emails from project administrators. I easily click a link to accept assignments that are then added to my profile queue and the platform enables a streamlined process for submitting drafts, working on edits from editors, and sending final copies to clients.
Falling down the rabbit hole
The internet has been an invaluable tool for my career as a freelance writer, blogger, and author.
However, the danger exists of getting too addicted to the Internet and straying far off track due to a myriad of distractions like social media.
If we call ourselves writers and authors, we need to have something to show for it. That means writing stories and manuscripts and getting them published.
If you’re not creating and consistently getting published, maybe you are wasting time and need to reevaluate how you’re spending your day.
I’m not trying to discourage you. I want to encourage you from a point of experience.
I had fallen down the rabbit hole and wasted too much time promoting my books, articles, and magazine — and wasn’t spending as much time as I should have finishing edits on my next novel, and writing more blog posts and articles. Through my efforts to market my content online, I did build up a large following on Twitter. That was a huge return on my investment of time. You can read more in the following article.
However, my creative process suffered.
I got obsessed with promoting and stopped writing. I followed the 80/20 Rule and only promoted 20% of the time and engaged with followers the other 80%. However, I got easily sidetracked scrolling through the feed on Twitter and spent too much time on that platform.
I got through my daily writing assignments, but the quality of content for my blogzine suffered. I wasted invaluable time which I could have spent finishing edits on my third novel and enhancing the quality of articles for my blogzine.
Thankfully, I had an epiphany and managed to pry myself away from the Twitter app on my phone.
Boundaries — I set limits on the amount of time I could spend on Twitter.
Time Blocking — I established set times when I would work on freelance copywriting assignments, write articles for my magazine, and finish edits for my novel.
Draft Feature — I took an hour on the weekend and used the draft feature on Twitter to create tweets that I wanted to send out that week. That helped me from wasting time throughout the week days trying to figure out what to tweet.
Accountability — I started working with some writer friends to hold me accountable to spend less time on social media and more time writing.
Action Plan — I created an action plan and set goals with specific key performance indicators (KPI’s) to easily identify writing achievement levels.
The epiphany occurred three months ago. I have seen growth in myself as an individual and as a writer. I’ve realized that I need to focus on consistently creating and providing valuable content to readers.
Sure, we can use the Internet for so many things. Just remember not to be controlled by the Internet. You need to control your time online to augment your writing schedule so you can consistently create content that is valuable to your readers.
Don’t get sucked into the vortex of social media and wasting time online. Find a balance to ensure your time online counts so you’re as productive as possible.
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel.