Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Writers Online

The internet has revolutionised communications.  So what does that mean for the aspiring writer?

In the Bad Old Days you'd sit in your draughty garret scratching stories onto parchment with only your own dark thoughts for company.  Nowadays you don't need to be so isolated.  One click gets you onto Facebook, Twitter and the myriad of writers' forums out there.  In the early days it's nice to meet like minded people and get some answers to your newbie questions.  But you can get so involved with this online community you forget why you ended up there. 

These days display sites have eclipsed the standard critique sites.  Display sites, like Authonomy and Book Country (to name but two - there are plenty more) are more about platform and discoverability.  Mutual backslapping is the order of the day, and anything resembling honest, ie. critical, critique is likely to be met with hostility because it is deemed "unsupportive". 

So, is the internet a good place for writers or just another procrastination technique?

I think there are hazards as well as benefits.  The internet is great for instant research and you can pick up lots of advice.  There's bad advice too, of course.  But as long as you're selective and trust your own instincts you shouldn't go far wrong.  The support group and mutual praise is nice in the early days when you're feeling shy and insecure but beware it doesn't become a crutch.  Your work is for the public at large, not just your little clique of mates who never dislike anything you write.

So really, nothing much has changed.  The internet might have made people more accessible, but writing is still a solitary activity and too much company might just blow you off course.


Leanne said...

Well written. As well Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Google+ are all time sucks. It's hard to face the blank page. It's easy to engage with other authors. What I've found helpful is setting a time limit on social networking activity. I could write more but my times up. : )

Sandra Patterson said...

Time limits are good, Leanne, but only if you can stick to them. Willpower, where art thou?