Though I know a lot of writers who use it, I’ve held out
so far on buying minutes from Freedom to keep me off the internet. But I certainly get the allure.
banging your bloody head against your story working on your book for endless hours, changing past tense to present, shuffling chapters, seeing yet another scene or paragraph that took days or even weeks to get perfect but that’s just not working, it’s too easy to skip town — virtually anyway — to check your email (who can stand knowing there are unread messages out there?!) and click on CNN.com for the 27th time (what if you miss the latest news about the debt ceiling or that Pa Walton died?). What if your friend posts a new, adorable photo of her cat playing in the snow and you don’t “like” it right away—– will she, god forbid, think you don’t like her?
I’ve been reading these 2 Dani Shapiro books, and when checking her website —- because who can read a book anymore without checking out the writer’s website? —- found this essay (well worth the read) on what it’s like to live in a world with constant internet access. In part, she says:
Except that every once in a while, I find myself caught up in a long conversation with a friend—the kind that happens after an exchange of emails has stretched into paragraphs and paragraphs, and finally talking feels like less effort. When this happens, I’m overcome with the sense that I’m wasting time. Not that I don’t want to talk to my friends. I do. I want to talk to my friends over a glass of good red wine and a cheeseburger in a dimly lit cafe. Instead, I pace my house, receiver pressed to my ear, doing other things while talking. I organize the pantry. Make myself a cappuccino. (Are you in the subway? a friend asked just yesterday while I steamed the milk.) I run a bath, and soundlessly lower myself into the steaming depths so that they have no idea I’m lying there naked. Fretting, all the while. Shouldn’t I be doing something else?
And that’s really the crux, isn’t it? The constant notion that, no matter what we are doing, there is “Shouldn’t I be doing something else?”
What are your strategies for staying off-line?