The Virtual Life of a Real Writer

Since my laptop's breakdown and unhappy demise, I've had time to think about things that concern blogging and being on the internet in general. The old Dell warhorse I'm using is slow. It can't handle more than two tabs open at the same time and certain graphics and flash apps frustrate any real time I try to spend online. A new laptop is on its way and should arrive in the next day or two. Let us be exceedingly glad and give thanks...

Spending less time on the internet has naturally opened up a new/old world of writing opportunities and what time I do spend here has had to be reserved for only that which really matters (to myself, anyway). I've come to the conclusion that social networks drain my writing like pin holes in a life raft. The leakage isn't enough to sink me suddenly or violently, though. It takes time. Instead of gaping holes of gushing lost creativity, I see little beads of it. If I wipe them away, other tiny dots eventually appear. It's a slow leak, one that has begun to rob me enough that I can now measure the loss.

I've gotten a lot done since being forced to limit my time on the Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and High Existence networks. Of course, that's a no-brainer. Many people came to that a long time ago. But I'm slow, I guess. No, that's not it. I knew I was allowing the internet to cut into my life as a writer, I just didn't think that it mattered all that much.

But I'm not talking only about the time spent with fingers on keys, I'm talking about time for contemplation, time for experience, time for feeling. Without those, nothing comes from my so-called pen. Fingers may write the words, but the mind creates the real substance. That's why I'm not a huge fan of the writing an approved number of words a day mindset. Hell, I could put in several thousand words just making up my weekly grocery and household to-do lists. Do words alone count? Not for me. Some days I may write only a paragraph, but spend hours contemplating the intricacies of a scene's structure, the direction of a dialogue, or how to leave the reader a bit of foreshadowing that isn't trite, or worse, a dead end. No, I'm wrong. There's nothing worse than trite. This quality-over-quantity is something I picked up in my years as a classical composer. Sometimes I dashed off the pages of manuscript tens at a time and other times I spent all day on one small harmonic passage. Without thought, feelings, and looking at the world around me through a writer's eye, I have nothing to write about.

I've decided to limit my online time to that part of my mornings that I spend over coffee. That's roughly from 9:00-11:00 every morning, longer on weekends. After I put my cup in the dishwasher I'll turn off the internet and go back to living my life as a writer. That means journaling, reading, walking, thinking, meditating, listening, feeling... of course, sometimes I'll have to do laundry and other mundane tasks, but for me, that's all part of it. Real life, not virtual life.

Who knows? By not relating every large and small detail of my life in Facebook and Twitter, I may even have stuff I can blog about. It's the unnecessary seepage that's making my writing life so anemic. We'll see how it goes.