The internet can be a wonderful thing, or it can be the most overwhelming time sink known to man. Indeed, it is both and I think one of the trickiest balances is finding how to use the internet so that it keeps one informed and abreast of one’s industry, without drowning us in too much information.
How do we find that balance? How do we learn to filter out the 24/7 onslaught of publishing tips, publishing trends, publishing warnings, writing rules, writing tips, and writing Must Dos? Not to mention all the marketing and promotional
For me at least, this is where the discipline part of writing comes in. I have no trouble producing pages, it’s the blocking out unnecessary ‘information’ that lurks everywhere, promising to inform and enlighten me to within an inch of my life.
For example, I keep reading everywhere that authors need to be ready for the coming revolution in publishing, whether than means e-books only, or no gatekeepers or fitlers, or all our books available free on the internet and the collapse of the paying model, such as what happened in the music industry. But you know? There just isn’t much I can DO about any of that. There is no proactive action I can take to ‘prepare’ myself other than be aware that it might happen. Some people feel that because of those coming changes authors need to be even more vigorous/vigilant about building an online presence and following so they can interact directly, but you know what? Nearly every author I know who has the desire and the temperament is doing that already.
Which is why I have stopped reading those sorts of articles. I found one or two sources which I've found to keep me informed, and I ignore the others.
The thing is, yes, it is good to be informed as to how the industry works in general. But 95% of the stuff we read about is not something in our control. Most of us have no control over distribution or what the publisher does to market us, or get word out, and most of us simply don’t know thousands of people to tap into.
So I try to limit my internet information intake to those things that help me do better those things I am committed to doing.
And I try to eliminate that information which serves no actionable purpose. For example, I don’t subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace when I’m writing a book. Yes, those deals are fascinating and numbers are like crack to me, but dear gawd, every time I read one of those suckers I begin comparing and competing and get all tangled up in the very least desirable aspect of writing. The only time I subscribe is when I have a new project I’m shopping, then I cancel the subscription.
Even information I am interested in, profiles of new writers and books, for example, I only ‘take in’ on certain days or after all my writing is done for that day.
Which is I am so in love with my Holy Trinity of Guiding Principles: Trust, Nourish, and Persevere. Is this article, blog, tweet feed helping me to trust in my process and skills? Is it nourishing either of those by helping me expand my boundaries and try new things? Or is it helping me persevere in those areas of the business that I need to apply perseverance? If not, I need to seriously question whether it’s something I need to spend my time and energy on.
I highly recommend a cyber spring cleaning at least once every six months, although I think once a quarter is better. Our needs and process change and evolve, probably more quickly than we think we do. Go through and evaluate each of those online places where you spend your precious time and psychic energy. If you have one word for 2011 or developed a trio of words, run each cyber haunt through that filter and see if it still fits. If it doesn’t, stop visiting it.
It doesn’t have to be a permanent break up; you can keep it in your bookmarks, just don’t visit every day or remove it from your blog feed. It can just be a hiatus—to see how you do apart. You might find you don’t miss it a bit, that your psyche gives a big, relaxed, ahhh, now that it doesn’t have to process/juggle/wade through that cyber information.
So here is my challenge to you: see if you can reduce your online intake of information by at least one third. One half would be even better. Next week, I’ll present some practical technological tools for juggling the remaining half…
And the week after that? We have a Super Exciting, Seekrit Guest Interview which will make you all very, VERY happy!