Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The End of the Internet Blackout

As many of you know, I spent December in a self-imposed Internet blackout.  My friend, Corrine Jackson, author of IF I LIE and TOUCHED, did this back in October, and came out of it with a fresh lease on writing and life--to listen to her talk about it was like listening to someone come back from a near-death experience (or alien abduction?).  She was power-charged, enthusiastic, and writing.  So I had to try it.

The thing is, I love the Internet.  I love Twitter and Facebook.  Many writers are great eavesdroppers, and Twitter especially gives us the perfect chance to indulge.  Social networking also gives us the opportunity to experience a simulation of social interaction--we spend an awful lot of time alone with a computer or a pen and pencil, after all.

But for me, the Internet was also disrupting my writing life.  When I got stuck in the middle of a paragraph or a scene, or didn't know what happened next, I'd just click over to Twitter.  Check my e-mail.  Research St. Stephen's Day on Wikipedia.

And not write.

So I took a month off.  I couldn't quit cold-turkey.  I had blog posts to write the YA Muses, the Class of 2k12 and Corsets, Cutlasses and Candlesticks and couldn't add to anyone else's already packed workload by refusing to do them.  I responded to personal messages on Twitter and Facebook.  And I had to use my e-mail--the YA Muses, especially, are a life-line for me--so supportive and encouraging, and as I slogged through the muddled middle of my WIP, I needed them more than ever.

But the biggest thing I learned this month is that the best way to cure writer's block is to sit in front of the blank screen until I write.  It could be a minute, it could be twenty.  But trawling the Internet only served as distraction, not inspiration.  So as I head into 2013, my resolution is to find the balance.  Only allow myself blocks of time for Internet and socializing on it, and turn it off when I'm writing.

I, too, have come out of this month recharged.  I read nothing but non-fiction--history, biography, books on craft.  I watched a shed-load of happily-ever-after movies recommended by Facebook followers--When Harry Met Sally, Romancing the Stone, A Knight's Tale, The Princess Bride (though I can't help envisioning the final scene that William Goldman put in the book--his own little retaliation to the happily-ever-after).  And I wrote.

I wrote 47,320 words in December.

More than I've ever written in a single month before.  So yeah, it was worth it.