How Writers Can Be ‘On the Internet’ without Living in It

There are so many writers who jump into debates and conversations just because they feel they have to.

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It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction, nonfiction, poetry, whatever your genre of choice. If you don’t spend time online, you’re going to remain in the shadows. Eternally an aspiring writer. Which is confusing, because all time spent online is typically spent away from actually writing.

These days a writer’s chances of ever making a name for him or herself increase when they have a strong online presence. Either they don’t know how to do that or they do it wrong. Some do it right, but end up spending too much time online, and not nearly enough time writing and experiencing the real world, so they can write more.

You can ‘be online’ as an aspiring writer without spending your whole life on it. Here’s how.

Designate specific time for consuming

The first reason you have to ‘be online’ is because you have to consume media. It’s important to know what’s going on in the world, what your mentors and role models are up to, what’s happening in the publishing industry. It’s how we’re social these days. It’s how we connect. Cutting yourself off from that completely is like deciding never to go out in public again (not as beneficial as it might sound).

It’s possibly to overdo it, though. After all, you can’t just spend all your time liking tweets and never writing stories. Designate the majority of your time for writing, and a little bit of time for exploring what kinds of new things are out there.

Stop reading comments

Have you ever thought about how much more time you spend reading comments on articles and posts and videos compared to how much time you actually spend consuming media? You want to believe reading those comments is going to enhance your understanding of a topic, but it isn’t. Honestly, it’s probably just going to annoy you, and writing is almost never a good idea when you’re annoyed.

Comments don’t matter. On your own work, maybe, but either limit or completely eliminate the time you spend in the comments sections. All that time you spend lost in other people’s opinions, the less time you spend writing, which completely defeats the purpose of consuming online media in the first place.

Participate when you have something valuable to say

There are so many writers who jump into debates and conversations just because they feel they have to. This makes you look pretty dumb, to be completely honest, if you don’t have anything valuable to bring to that conversation.

Don’t just ramble on about your opinion just because it dissolves your FOMO. Some days you’ll feel like commenting on every post you see that stirs up some kind of emotion inside you. Yes, you’re a writer, you’re good with words and you have things to say. But participate in issues that are important to you and that reflect your values, not just in issues everyone’s talking about at the moment. Spend less time commenting mindlessly and more time writing meaningful work, both online and off.

Be smart. Build your brand and be yourself. Consume, and participate, but not too much. Write more than you surf. Be present, but strategically. Don’t get trapped in a vicious cycle of streaming videos and reading articles. The internet can be a great tool for writers, but it can also be the barrier that keeps you from achieving your goals.

Image courtesy of techgirl.

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