I'm taking a break from editing to write this post for tomorrow morning. The little turn-dial timer on my desk is set for ten minutes, in case I get distracted. When that bells dings, I will sign off and go back to work.
PBW's secret weapon against internet time-sinkage: a kitchen timer.
Using a timer to regulate my online time is something I started when I used to moderate writer think tank sessions in chat. Writers can ramble on forever, so the group and I would use the timer to brainstorm a writing problem in ten minutes or less. Everyone got a chance to talk about their work but we kept it focused and efficient.
The timer allows me to spend about an hour total on the internet each day without getting sucked into it. Bell dings, time's up. While I'm on (besides writing posts) I use the time to read weblogs, hit some web sites, gather links and answer e-mail. If anything on the internet or related to it gets me angry, I sign off and walk away.
I have no problem doing this. I unplugged from the internet once for a year after discovering it was taking over my life and messing with my work. Unplugging taught me that I don't have to be online to have fun.
Being online is fun, though, isn't it? The internet is a great research tool, and for many of us it's an ever-changing window to the rest of the world. For writers, weblogs and websites can be very effective in the self-marketing department.
Online friends are truly wonderful. Low-maintenance, generally funny, happy, and trouble-free folks who you see when you want. Unlike your RL friend Bubba who shows up drunk on your doorstep at three a.m. with two hookers, no money, and an Impala with a screwdriver in the ignition. Okay, Alison did send two guys over here once, but it was strictly for professional reasons . . . .
Anyway, I'm all for fun and promo and friends who don't boost cars, but the timer keeps me from getting too distracted by them. So does walking away when I get steamed. Even when I feel passionately about something, like the censorship of romance writers, keeping an emotional balance is more important.
The internet is part of my life. It's just not going to take over my life.
Ding -- time's up.