Getting Sucked Into The Time Sink of the Internet...and What I'm Going To Do About It (What About YOU?)
To the left: my comic for Writer Unboxed this past weekend. You can see a bigger version by clicking on the comic and going to Writer Unboxed (a GREAT site for writers, by the way, if you haven't already visited).
I have found this pattern to be increasingly the norm for me up to now.
There are just so MANY great blogs to read, e-mail messages to catch up on, posts to write, collab blogs to participate in, comics to draw, writer & illustrator communities to check out, author and illustrators pals to help promote, etc.
While all of these activities are fun AND related to my various work projects and career goals, I realize that I still need to find the right balance between online networking/collab and working on my own projects. My "to do" list is always waaaaaaaaaay long, and my own creative work has been coming last.
Talking to author/poet/publisher Lawrence Schimel in NYC last week has really inspired me.
I WANT TO PUBLISH MORE BOOKS.
I have so many book ideas and also so many only partly-finished or partly-outlined projects: some writing (fiction & nonfiction) and some writing & illustrating (picture books, illustrated middle grade novels). I need to get more of these finished and OUT there.
Yes, I have a brilliant agent (Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown) but she needs finished projects or project proposals in hand before she can send them out.
I WANT TO IMPROVE MY CRAFT.
Related to publishing more books: I want to work on improving my craft in both writing and illustrating, and that takes time. I don't want to just publish books. I want to keep getting better at what I do, to always be pushing myself to learn more, try new things, and most of all -- to practice practice PRACTICE.
I WANT TO *READ* MORE BOOKS.
I started doing an office purge this past weekend, culling my print book collection and setting aside nearly 200 books to give to non-profits. Many were books that I had always meant to read but have to face the fact that I would never read (books that caught my eye at used bookstores, for example). Some were books I read and enjoyed but will likely never read again. I plan to replace my favourites with e-books, which take up less space, making it more feasible for me to buy new print books. :-)
But as I did my purge, I began to realize that I don't read nearly as many books as I did years ago. What gives? The answer: I'm spending much more time online than I did years ago.
What I'm Going To Do About It:
Ideally, I'd like to say I'm going to stay offline in the mornings until I get some creative work done. I have a daily publishing industry news column for Writersmarket.com to research and write each weekday morning, however, and that inevitably gets me on a slippery slope as I come across all kinds of interesting links and info and blogs as I comb the Web for publishing news.
I'm also aware that going cold turkey will likely end in me falling off the wagon, given that I've gotten used to being constantly online and connected for many years.
So here's my plan, posted here in public to help keep me accountable:
- When I work on my Writersmarket.com, I'm going to stay focused on the task and not let myself get tempted into wandering off the path. If I think of something important I need to do online that's not related to my column, I'll keep a list (I'm big on lists).
- I'll let myself check e-mail ONCE mid-morning (I usually get up around 6:30 or 7 a.m., so that would be about 9:30 or 10) to see if there's any URGENT e-mail. I will resist answering other e-mail or checking e-mail again until noon.
What about YOU?
At this point, some of you out there are rolling your eyes and thinking, "Geez, that doesn't sound like much." And while this may not be for you, it's a big step for me. I'm going to revisit my goals and progress and post here again in a month, to let you all know how I did. And if any of YOU want to post your own related goals in the comments section, feel free! Then you can update us all on your progress in a month when I do.
Some of you may also be thinking, "See? THIS is why I stay off all social media." Let me be clear: I am NOT giving up on social media! In my experience, the benefits of using social media far outweigh the negatives. I just need to be more disciplined in when and how I use it.
Any thoughts? Comments? Anyone else want to post their monthly Internet Anti-Distraction Goals?