"I've eased up on Internet use and it's made a huge difference. I can once again sit and read a book for an hour or two without flinching."
The above is a recent Facebook status I posted. The post generated a number of comments that ranged from "Share your secret" to "I soooo get it."
Like low-carb dieting, I've frequently tried and failed to stick to a reduced-time online plan. I'm not sure why this time it's clicked and--to be honest--I'm nowhere near convinced my new found Internet-free nirvana is here to stay.
For the moment though, I'm feeling really good about my decision to spend less time online. What's helped immensely is that I've dedicated at least the first part of this year to working on a young adult novel I've had brewing for some time. I spent the last months of 2010 completing assignments and--dagger to my heart--turning down new work. I turned in my last paid assignment (did I mention the stabbing, dagger-like pains to my heart??) last week which means I no longer have the excuse of needing to log on constantly to see if a client is attempting to contact me.
I'm a morning writer. If I open e-mail or log onto Facebook before I write, game over. My brain fragments and I can't hold a plot-line or linear thought in my head. Writing quickly turns into a chore, so I have strong motivation to stay off-line until the morning writing is done.
Encouragingly, the less time I spend online, the less time I want to spend online. Where I used to race to check e-mail every spare minute of the day, I'm now reluctantly dragging myself to the computer to log in. (For the record, I feel the same way about the phone. I hear it ring and am instantly resentful.)
Will it last? Unknown. My guess (my hope) is that I maintain the low-Internet diet as I continue work on the book. I really don't think high Internet use and extended creative writing are compatible, at least for me.
Obviously, due to the nature of the their jobs, most people don't have the option to disconnect to the extent I have. But I do suggest aiming for one off-line day each week. Don't go near your computer on a Saturday or Sunday. Read a book, take a walk, cook a meal or clean out that hall closet you've been meaning to get to.
Your brain will appreciate the break.