When You’re Glued to the Screen

Over at Walkley Magazine, Darren Baguley writes about managing the time-suck that is the Internet. He asked me (among others) some questions – I fear the point of my life is to be an example to others of ‘what can go wrong’.

Journalists are a curious lot, but is all that net surfing changing our brains? Darren Baguley looks at internet addiction and ways to control it

Just over 10 years ago I was made redundant from the technology magazine publisher I worked for. After taking a couple of months off I started to look for another in-house job but ended up going freelance.

Instead of having to stay inside the technology/business box I wrote on whatever topics I was interested in – as long as I could pitch it successfully to an editor. But becoming my own boss meant that a minor vice – being easily distracted – became a major problem, especially once I’d installed broadband internet.

Addiction to the internet is a problem a lot of us struggle with because the main tool for writers and journalists is a computer. And with the swelling numbers of journalists now working freelance at home, away from the discipline imposed by an office environment, it’s a growing problem.

When it comes to research, the web allows us to do in minutes what previously would have taken days. But when we sit down to work there’s always the temptation to cruise off elsewhere. And because journalists are curious by nature there is no end to interesting articles, information and websites to view.

None of the journalists I know would admit to having a problem with spending too much time on the internet – perhaps they’re worried their editors will read this piece – but some fiction authors I know were a little more forthcoming.

Brisbane-based, British Fantasy Award-winning writer Angela Slatter says, “I try to limit my incursions on the internet to the same times every day: first thing in the morning to deal with business emails, then at lunchtime as a break, and then again in the evening to catch the last dregs of email. I try to make sure I have a list of tasks to do each writing day and I generally have sufficient self-discipline to devote my time to writing rather than internet procrastination.

“Ultimately though, if you’re a writer you need to write; you need to make the time to do that, to meet your obligations (editors are not very understanding of requests for extensions that begin with ‘I started watching music videos on YouTube, then six hours later found myself watching a bunch of Russian dudes with submachine guns testing cake recipes)”.

The rest is here.

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