It’s easy for writers to get distracted, especially on those days when it’s difficult to focus on work. Distractions in the home, friends and family can be hard to deflect; but one of the craftiest thieves of your time is the worldwide web. Social media, surfing and blogging are the best friend of procrastination, embezzling precious time away from writing. It’s easy to say you’ll only spend a few minutes browsing, but those minutes have a peculiar way of turning into hours. There’s always an excuse to read “this article” or “that blog” – suddenly, two hours have frittered away, and an empty page or neglected document sits abandoned on the desk. This is where a writing schedule, and a handful of discipline, is beneficial.
The internet is a prime source for marketing and research; there’s no denying it’s a valuable tool for writers, but if you are the kind of writer that finds it difficult to manage your time, the web will suck you in like a black hole. I spend time online for research and marketing, and I enjoy interacting with other authors and reading their blogs, but like many writers, I only have so much time in a week to devote to writing. In order to get the most out of my time, I make sure to include time in my schedule specifically for web browsing. I set a time limit, sometimes setting an alarm to let me know when my browsing time is up so that I can get the most out of my day. There are days when I spend more time on the web than I planned – at that point, I make a judgement call –is this extra time needed to reach my final objective? Is it beneficial to a piece I’m working on? Will it be advantageous in pushing me forward?
Enjoy your time online, it’s meant to be fun and informative; but don’t let it steal time away from your writing; make sure your words comes first.
This is my pen, gliding over the page, wishing it could write all the interesting and fantastical words that flit through my head when I am away from my notebook, my time and my art, and at the end of the day, all the words that plagued me, that begged to be set free, are trapped in my mind, refusing to budge, leaving me to sit, barren and sterile, in a noisy coffee shop wondering why I am wasting my time with all the drivel I can’t produce, and swearing at my brain for teasing me with all the brilliant stories and poems the world will never see, because now they sleep in forgotten moments, offering me a glimpse of what could have been, leaving behind a jilted woman with a cold cup of coffee, a page of gibberish and a pen…
Some stories are destined to be unfinished; they ignite, blazing through their own ego, then burn out, watching their ashes drift away into the void of their own beginning.
I played in the unfinished basements of unfinished homes.
I rented unfinished apartments; I leased unfinished houses with boyfriends who became unfinished lovers that led to marriage, unfinished.
I took unfinished classes, always starting where I’d already been.
I left my work unfinished at the end of each day, returning in the morning to more unfinished tasks.
I read unfinished stories; I left uncapped pens alone to dry beside a page of unfinished words not yet begun…
I’ve written about the value of keeping journals and what fabulous resources they are for storytelling. I have records about my life at every age; but it was my girlfriend who inspired me to keep a separate journal for travel. She kept one for every trip so she could remember the places, events and people she encountered. It was her way of being able to share the story of her journey with her friends and family. It was a brilliant suggestion. A few months ago I travelled through five cities in China, a whirlwind tour granting me an incredible glimpse at another country and another culture. I wrote about my days every night, and when I revisited my own journey in the pages of my journal, I discovered plenty of stories hidden beneath the surface.
I keep my travel journal separate from my traditional one. It makes it easier to find a particular moment, evoking the moods, images, scents, and sounds that may have faded over time. I can remember the amazing hike down the Grand Canyon, but may forget about the funny little woman in the hotel bar, a quirky character just lingering in the pages; I can remember the vastness of the Mighty Mississippi, but might forget about the passionate musician in the outdoor bar transporting his audience back in history. I can find in the story of my travels new characters, settings and evocative moments that can’t be duplicated.
Each time I read my travel journal I excavate a new forgotten moment; it’s like embarking on a new journey with each flip of the page.