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Creativity vs. Distraction: 13 Tips for Writers in the Age of the Internet by K.M. Weiland - Usa



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I was twelve when I learned how to use my first hand-me-down computer. It ran Windows for Workgroups and played games like Crystal Caves and Commander Keen. Getting that computer was a life-changing experience. In some ways, it was probably the event that truly fated me to be a writer. Although I had written stories on a typewriter, the computer was a delightful toy that pulled me deeper into the possibilities of word processors and design software. I wrote as much because I liked typing away at the computer as much as I liked the actual writing.



When I was fifteen, my computer got hooked up to the Internet. It was dial-up, which meant only one computer in the house could be connected at a time. It loaded a three-minute video in about three hours. And in absolutely definite ways, it put me in the career path of a writer. The innovations that followed rapidly in the next ten years, not least among them the advent of the Kindle and the self-publishing boom, were timed to allow me opportunities that past generations couldn’t even have imagined.

The Internet has been good to me, in ways large and small. It’s allowed me to make a living doing something I’m passionate about. It’s allowed me the ability to talk to all of you every week and to get to know so many people I never would have encountered in actual life. It’s taught me to be a better writer. It’s allowed me to live in the middle of nowhere and still purchase just about anything I could want from just about anywhere in the world. It’s given me access to the world’s library of books, music, and movies. It’s put a mind-boggling amount of information at my fingertips. It’s plugged me in to a global community of opinions, news, passion, support, and possibilities.


Twenty years after first dialing up the Internet on my clunky old computer, I take for granted how phenomenally this technology has affected my life, as a person and a writer.


Vintage everything. My first computer, sans Internet.


But along with all the blessings have come an equal number of challenges.

If I sometimes take for granted the gifts given by the Internet and its related technologies, I also sometimes take for granted how much its very blessings are also its curses.


If the Internet has given my creativity a voice and a platform, it has also encroached upon the way I create. My fifteen-year-old self could have had no idea how this technology would change her life and the world in the next two decades. She could have no idea how this technology would literally change her, her brain, her very physiology.


In short, if the astounding technologies of our lifetime have given us countless good things, they have also given us… Internet brain. This creates concerns for any human anywhere who uses a screen (and, honestly, for those who don’t too), but as writers we must confront special challenges in protecting and empowering our creativity in this Age of the Internet.


The Unique Challenges for Writers in the Age of the Internet


When I was fifteen and just starting out as a writer, I had no idea I would face challenges much different from those encountered by Charles Dickens (other than, you know, the ink-stained fingers). But in the last half of those two intervening decades, I have found myself putting more and more energy into combating the totally unexpected challenges of the very real ways in which my brain has changed.


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