Using the Internet

The rapid growth of the internet of the last decade has been a two-edged sword for writers. Consider the following points:

Positive:

  • Research information is often just a few key strokes away on Google.
  • Publishers and writers can communicate instantly via email.
  • The tyranny of distance is no longer a major issue.
  • Writers who blog can instantly publish their work and potentially have a world-wide audience for their writing.

Negative:

  • Almost everyone, it seems, thinks they have the ability to be a writer without doing the many years of hard work to hone one’s skills.
  • The millions of blogs on the internet that display a chronic ignorance of basic spelling, punctuation and sentence construction skills means that the internet is in grave danger of becoming clogged up with fifth rate rubbish.
  • The internet has produced a proliferation of on-line writing courses with tens of thousands of would-be authors. The present day trend is for fewer books to be published. With thousands more writers submitting work to publishers, the slush piles in publishers’ offices are rapidly becoming mountains, making the discovery of worthwhile manuscripts even harder.

“I have to say I am a bit jaded by the Internet.” writes Sean
McLachlan. “I rarely surf for new sites anymore, unless it’s part
of my research, and while I’m a member of several writing-related
news groups, I tend to skim them as the majority of people on
them are rather amateurish. That said, the Internet is vital to
my writing career. I live in Spain, and all my publishers are
either in the U.S. or U.K. I simply couldn’t make a living if I
couldn’t cyber commute. I use the Internet about as much as I
did a few years ago, but my use is more work-related and
efficient. I don’t spend much time reading stuff that won’t help
my career.”

Sean is right. He also highlights an important skill one needs to develop, that of focus. It is easy to become distracted for hours surfing the net. Focus on the task in hand and ignore all the distracting, non-useful, sometimes poorly written garbage displayed on the internet. Sifting the wheat from all that chaff is a skill all writers need to develop.

Sometimes, however, I feel overwhelmed.

Trying to find relevant information is like finding lots of wheat in the haystack – but it’s the tiny needle you are looking for.

 

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