As 2013 begins, I realize I am suffering from sensory overload. I blame the internet. Possibly the most wonderful, useful, time-saving, inspirational tool I’ll see in my lifetime, the dark side of the internet is the conundrum of having too much information at one’s fingertips too easily.
The title of this post sums up my complaint. Everyone seems to be searching for answers in cyberspace. Many people–the so-called, or self-proclaimed experts–honestly believe they’ve discovered “the secret”, or at least “a secret” to success (define it the way you will).
These experts trumpet their brilliance in blogs, websites, e-books, twitters, or whatever social media site du jour is most popular. And we who are still searching eagerly lap up their expertise for either a nominal fee (a subscription) or for free. Which instantly makes me think of the old, old saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
What I’m noticing more and more is the internet reflects the whole of society. Most of us are average. We float along, moving up and down the cyber bell curves of wisdom,success, insight, popularity, whatever. However, as soon as one of us seekers reads something from one of the “experts” that resonates with us, we think we’ve now become the expert.
Why? Because the experts tell us that to sell our books, our ideas, our selves, we need to build a platform proclaiming to the world that we now know what we’re talking about. We hang out our blog shingle, put a slightly different twist on the information we ripped off from the previous expert, and pass along our “new-found” knowledge to an eager world-wide audience.
As a result of everyone becoming an expert, I see more and more regurgitation of the same material from dozens of different sources. I focus mainly on writing, and I’ve finally discovered that of the 15-20 blogs or websites I follow, I see more and more repetition of “what works,” “How to ____,” “Five ways to achieve _____,” “The Top Ten secrets of _____,” and the like. I’m learning the same thing over and over. But it’s worded just differently enough by each expert so that I think I’m learning something new until I read most or all of the article or blog post and realize I read the same basic truths last week, last month, or last year from someone else.
While I love the bounty of information I find in cyberspace and have learned much, the problem is I only have so much time in a day. If I wanted to, I could spent 16 hours per day learning stuff on the internet and do nothing of what I really intended to do when I started this intense study, which is, to WRITE.
So, even though I’m not a resolution maker, especially on New Years Day, I will endeavor to cut my blog-reading, Facebook scanning, and twittering to a minimum. What I will do to fill that time is WRITE. Novels, short stories, essays, articles, blogs, anything to build a credible body of work. I see it as my only way to gain publishable stature in the literary/writing/authorial world. WRITE.
Ideally, I can flip-flop my internet time and my writing time. I think I read books at least a minimal amount, but could expand that to one more book per week on average. I’ll focus my internet studies on the craft of writing, not the marketing. I’ll read more books about writing, read more books by current best-selling authors to see how current tastes are running, and write more than I have in the past.
My goals: finish the novel I started in NaNoWriMo, write a third novel, and at least start planning a fourth. I’ll also write at least two short stories that are submittable to publications and/or contests. Seeing as how I’ve never written even a single novel in a year, this is a reasonable goal for me. Finally, I’ll set a bogging goal of two post per month minimum. My original goal was one per month and I think I’ve met that goal in the nearly three years I’ve been blogging. I should get close to 200,000 words with those projects. Tune in next January to see how I did.
What have you noticed about your internet consumption? Are you pleased with your writing output? Any secrets to pass on to me and others on how to achieve goals, and how to filter out less-than-productive internet sites and “Experts’?