So let me just add, further to my post about the Puddy Principle, that my antipathy to the internet, as distinct from all the other forms of distraction that plague writers, is founded on more than a recognition that by its natural depths—links leading on to links—it has a special power to pull us further and further from our work.
There is in addition an insidiousness about the internet that is easy, at this point, to forget about, because we have all so thoroughly integrated it into our lives. The insidiousness I’m referring to has to do with the simple fact—positive, negative, or neutral—that much (most?) of what you see online is backed by capitalist interests: whether it’s the website of the New York Times or someone’s blog about vegan cooking or a site using pictures of attractive women to sell funny t-shirts, someone stands to make money every time you click on the site. A site is more or less successful, more or less valuable to potential advertisers, depending on how often people look at it.
Who cares, right? You should, if you’re a writer, professional, quasi-, aspiring, or otherwise. Because your product—bear with me here—is not the work that you create, it is your focus & attention.
Ultimately, of course, you transform that focus & attention into short stories or novels or memoirs. But your natural resource, the thing which you possess which is worth money to you, is your ability to focus and get something done. You can tell me that the thing which you possess which is worth money to you is your ideas, but ask anybody on the street—ask a four-year-old—ask your mailman or the lifeguard at the pool—everybody has an idea.
The thing you possess which is worth money to you is your ability to turn your idea into a finished product, and that requires focus & attention.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, what Internet companies are selling—keep bearing with me—are not the products you see advertised. What Facebook, for example, is selling, is your focus & attention. They are saying to other companies, “this person is going to spend forty-five minutes today on our site, and we would love to sell you that forty-five minutes.”
So let me put two and two together (and thank you for bearing with me)—you, writer or would-be writer, have a precious natural resource: your focus & attention. Your goal is to monetize that resource, by using focus & attention to turn ideas into stories, which you can then turn into money.
The internet’s goal is to take that natural resource from you and monetize it for themselves.
In conclusion: don’t let them do that.