Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Internet Diet

I'm on a diet - an internet diet. I had to cut back the hours I spent surfing the web in search of insightful and creative blogs and sites for writers of children's literature. With my current work load, I don't have the time.

This is a picture of my desk. It's a mess. It's always been a mess. If I had taken a picture of my whole office you would have seen piles of books on the floor and chair, piles of papers on the piles of books, and a two nearly empty bookcases because of all the books piled on the floor and chair. Usually, when I start a new project, I clean my office. I start files, shred unwanted printouts, organize the mess that is my desk. But right now, I don't have time to clean my desk. I am working on revising two critical essays, writing two new critical essays, revising the first four chapters of my current wip, and reading at least 10 books every four weeks. AND this blog (which I don't care how many people claim it's supposed to be spontaneous and off the top of your head, I plan my blogs, give them considerable thought, and write them several days before they are due so I can obsessively re-write them).

This photo alone explains why I need an internet diet.

I need to get organized. I need to manage my time more efficiently.

I love the internet, though I am a bit of a Luddite. I don't facebook, twitter, and I am not linkedin to anything. I spend time, too much time, on a select few sites. I enjoy these sites, and I enjoy "meeting" people on them, chatting with them, commenting with them, exchanging support and ideas with them. But I've got to stop, or at least cut back.

Going on an internet diet is the same as going on any other kind of diet. You can't eliminate the carbs completely from your life, other wise you'll find yourself in the back of the closet eating a loaf of stale Italian bread (or at least I will). I have to limit my carbs and limit my internet time.

In the last month I've been successful on my diet. Every morning I boot up my computer, check emails, check this blog, and then allow myself a quick peek at the VCFA Student Forum site. If nothing new is posted, I leave it. Immediately. I do the same with Verla Kay's Blueboards (of course, there's always something new posted there, so I have to be VERY selective). I don't go searching for threads I haven't read filled with suggestions for MG books with protagonists who love dogs, or insights into extended metaphors, or details on response times for agents I haven't submitted to (all of which could be extremely helpful, IF I needed it. I don't. Right now). And that's the point. The internet is there when I need the information but as interesting as all of it can be, what I need right now is discipline - which I've never been good at.

So I apologize to those whose blogs I used to follow and comment on more regularly. It's not that I no longer enjoy the blogs, it's that I enjoy them too much. The flip side of this sad internet diet is that it's working. . . or should I say, I am working. I am meeting my deadlines, cranking out the critical essays, trying new techniques, and literally vibrating with creative ideas. Isn't that cool?

I don't know if you need an internet diet, maybe you're more disciplined than I am. . . I sure hope so.


  1. Ha! I just journaled about this very thing when I got up this morning. I spend way too much time on the internet. I am one of those people who starts in one spot and ends up several sites later with a ton of information that I don't necessarily need right at that moment!
    I decided I need a break, too!
    I see that like me, you have a mac. I am planning on installing "Freedom" - which is a program for macs that allows you to turn off internet access for specified lengths of time. I think with your diet analogy that would be like not buying a bag of Oreos and expecting to eat only one at a time. It keeps the Oreos out of the house, period!
    It will be interesting to see how we do with this.

  2. Um...guilty!

    I limit my morning access. Check email and a few specific sites, then get to work. But as soon as I hit first draft brain freeze after plowing through to word count goals, I give in to my addiction.

  3. I totally need one! I am actually on a bit of a forced diet now because there are three weeks between camp and school and I can't seem to get much computer time with my kids home.

  4. I've just started a "mini" diet--trying to limit my blogging and blueboard snooping to the evenings (between dinner and book reading). Doesn't always work (like now!) but I need to do something to control this addiction! I'm glad it's working for you. That's inspiring.

  5. Julia - Oreos?? I think I've forgotten what oreos are? Just to prove what a Luddite I am-how can you tell I've got a mac?
    JA - Limiting the morning access is not difficult, it's the subsequent "snacking" that becomes a problem.
    Corey - there are advantages to having kids at home who need your time.
    MG - I'm disappointed I haven't gotten to your site! My avocardo is lonely!

  6. Hey, you can tell you have a Mac by that little apple on the front of your computer!

    Yes, I think the internet is amazing. This morning I found tons of well documented information about the folktales I'm working on.

    But you could spend a whole morning networking from one writing website to another. Fun, but not often very productive. I check three blogs every day and usually that's it.

    Unless I get buried in a writing hole and need diversion.

  7. AS I always say, I'll start my diet tomorrow. Tonight, it's nothin' but net...and carrot cake. Sigh.

  8. Gale & Julia - Well, I missed the obvious. I thought Julia knew some internet secret where she could tell what kind of computer I had. Silly me!

    JL - Carrots are good for your eyesight.

  9. I try to "starve" myself on the weekends, but it's hard.

    I always feel a bit cranky when I've found out I've spent a few hours "surfing"- hard to get back to serious work. There are so many really cool sites for writers though. I try and limit myself, but again...I agree with you Janice! I'll start tomorrow ;)

  10. JL and Robin - Scarlett O'Haras - the both of you!

  11. Meg,

    First - the messy office - which is also an addiction. Mine is filled with piles of papers, files and books. Ed has filled his up himself so I've moved on with my stacks to the kitchen!

    Second - yes, I could spend hours on the net so I also try to limit my voyaging to evening hours.