Six months ago, I decided it was about time to start my new novel. I had some ideas, some characters, some themes to explore. I was excited about it, even. Ready to dive in! And after six months I am thrilled to report I have written a grand total of twelve pages.
Yes, thank you. Thank you very much.
I have a number of excuses for my failure to get my butt in gear. First excuse: life. Kids, homework, church callings, actual paid work (70 freshman comp students last semester, give me strength), freelance editing, PTA, laundry, etc. etc. Second excuse: legitimate writer’s block. Writing is hard and, for me, beginning is the hardest part. Once I get going I have some momentum, but starting something new can be almost painfully difficult.
But it’s the third excuse that’s the topic of this post. It’s the Internet. When I started writing my first novel I had a lovely dial-up Internet connection. It took ten minutes to fire up the computer and log on, and forget the amount of time it took to download graphics. And even though I liked visiting a site or two, blogs weren’t anywhere on my radar screen then. Without the social element, the Internet was like an electronic newspaper, except it took four and a half minutes to turn a page. So when I sat down at my computer with an hour or two of quiet time, I wasn’t tempted to do much more than open Microsoft Word and get down to it.
That was then. This is now. My ancient Dell has been replaced by a zippy little MacBook, and that MacBook is a portal to all sorts of enticements. And so, okay, I’m not as disciplined as I should be. I think I’m going to sit down and do some good, hard work . . . but it’s so easy to click on Firefox (I’m just going to spend 10 minutes, I tell myself, and check a couple of things) and before I know it I’ve been sucked into the vortex.
Plus, now I have a blog, and even though I only post once a week or so, I spend a good chunk of writing time working on it. And then there’s all my friends’ and family members’ blogs, blogs I love to read and then feel I’ve gotta leave a pithy comment or two. I can’t forget the bloggernacle—Segullah being, of course, one of the best of that bunch—and if I’m not careful I can spend an hour and a half checking out what hundreds of smart, interesting people I’ve never met have to say on hundreds of smart, interesting topics I never knew I was actually interested in.
The trouble is, the time I spend perusing the Internet is valuable in many ways. I love the social connectedness I’ve found with old friends and new friends through blogging. I love the conversations that the bloggernacle enables. But I also know that I’m neither as organized nor as disciplined as I ought to be, and it’s just a lot more fun (and a heck of a lot easier) to cruise around blogland than it is to face the blinking cursor on the white and silent page.
So I’d love to hear from all of you. How do you balance your blog time with the other more arduous jobs you’re supposed to get done on your computer? This could range from school work (how many people in the bloggernacle are avoiding doing their dissertations? :-)) to work work (has your productivity suffered?) to creative work (see me raise my hand high in the air). And do you think the blogging explosion will have any lasting effect on writing as a genre? What if, instead of toiling silently, writing and revising an essay or a story or a poem, too many writers get pulled toward the instant gratification and social nature of blogging? Especially our younger writers. Is there a chance that instead of honing their skills in the traditional genres, they might instead focus solely on blogging? And would you even consider that a bad thing?
I know there are many skilled and dedicated bloggers here at Segullah. I’d love to hear your thoughts.