Stop Internet and Social Media Addiction from Derailing your Writing

I was introduced to this great blog recently, (how did I not find it before!) and while perusing it found this post about how social media messes with our brains.

Go check it out here:

Pretty crazy stuff, eh?  I always thought the Internet made me smarter.  Maybe it does, but not the way I thought.

The graphic says Internet addiction is real.  I can tell you that from experience.  I don’t smoke anymore.  Instead I spend that time looking at cat videos and reading Cracked, hanging out in my chat room and talking to Certain Someone (hereafter referred to as Egon) on instant messaging.

No, I'm not dating Harold Ramis.

The Internet has given artists and writers an amazing new platform for our work, both in publishing and promotion.  If it’s changing the way our brains work, how does that affect our content?

A shorter attention span screws with concentration

It’s painful to sit and do homework for a long time, as any kid can tell you.  Adults aren’t typically as restless as kids, so we can concentrate better than we could then.  But if we’re constantly checking everything else, we’re not giving 100% to our work.

How to unplug

Walk away from the computer.  Yes, you heard me.

Take a stroll outside after dinner if the weather is nice.  Sit in another room for a bit and read a few chapters of an actual book.  Pick one thing and do that exclusively for a while.

Whatever activity you choose, set a time and stick to it.  You may find you can only concentrate for fifteen minutes before the siren song of your electronics begins tugging you away.  Keep it up, and the time will get longer.   Soon you’ll gain superpowers of concentration.  Booyah!

Multitasking is bogus

When you’re looking at a blog you love, do you find yourself reading for hours?  Or do you skip around, going back and forth between it, Facebook, a chat room, Messenger, Twitter, your Netflix queue, joke sites and Amazon?

All the electronic feedback will clutter your brain.  According to this New York Times article from 2010, multitasking isn’t great for social relationships or work.  See, they’ve known this for a while.

How to unplug

Try to keep open apps at a minimum during writing time.  Close your email, chat rooms and social media sites.  To do articles that require research, consider printing a web page source as a .pdf using a program like CutePDFWriter.  You can then open the file and work from it without the distractions lurking on browser tabs.

My day job is fraught with interruptions, especially in the morning.  I save tasks that demand my full attention for late afternoon, when my shipping deadline has passed and the phone quiets down.  I practice so when I sit down to write, it’s easier to focus.

Social media is not socializing

I’m getting really conversant with the tops of people’s heads as they click away on their smartphones or tablets.  I rarely see anyone’s face anymore.  Worst is getting a text or message from someone who is in the same house.  Really?

Walk your sorry butt in here and talk to me!

I need to connect with other humans IRL (in real life).   I can’t do that if I’m busy blog-hopping, posting LOLcats on Facebook or giggling over  How annoying is it to spend time with someone who won’t get off the phone or computer?

But it's so funnnyyyyyyyy....

How to unplug

Plenty of freelance writers like to work in coffee shops or libraries just to get out of the house.  If you do this but you find you’re tuning out as soon as you sit down, leave your laptop closed for a while while you sip your latté.

Stuck at the airport?  People-watch.  This simple pleasure, a boon to any writer, seems to have been lost.  Resist the temptation to snap covert photos of fellow travelers with unfortunate clothing or hairstyle choices.

In meetings or with friends is not the time to text or download ringtones.  Your loved ones will appreciate you much more if you give them your undivided attention when you’re together.  Then they won’t be clamoring for it when you’re supposed to be working.

Now it’s time for me to practice what I preach.  Just as soon as I finish watching this YouTube video.  Maru is so cute…I just love that little kitty….


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