Most writers would probably agree that the internet is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it puts a world of information, resources, and opportunities to connect with like minded people at our fingertips.
The curse is that it puts a world of information, resources, and opportunities to connect with like minded people at our fingertips.
It requires a lot of discipline for a writer to refrain from constantly taking a refreshing dip into the waters of the world wide web. And once you've taken that first small step, it's hard to pull back before the tide pulls you right in and you're floating happily down the current of blogs, chats, tweets, and status posts. I'm as guilty as anyone, and it's an ongoing battle to keep my mind on my work and not click on the Internet Explorer icon at the first sign of brain blockage.
But I'm wondering if the internet doesn't deprive us of more than just time. I think we're often substituting our online connections with people for the real thing, thinking that because we share our status on FB or post our opinions in pithy 140 character offerings on Twitter we've "connected" with our friends and colleagues in a meaningful way.
I'm beginning to believe that those connections aren't as meaningful as we've led ourselves to believe, and that writers especially need the kind of give and take that only can occur in real conversations with real live people. Although I'm an introvert through and through and do my best work when I'm alone in a quiet room with no distractions - human or otherwise - I've found myself recently craving the company of another writer, someone I could sit down with over a cup of coffee and "talk shop" - brainstorm ideas about our writing projects, bemoan those days when the muse fails to call and wonder why she always does when we have nine million other things on the calendar. We could discuss the future of publishing, and dish about the way our favorite writers do what they do.
A lot of the writers I follow on Twitter carry on these kinds of conversations in their Twitter-feeds. Maybe it's my age - after all, I grew up when the only way to communicate electronically was via a rotary landline telephone - but that's just not as satisfying in any way as hearing the person's voice or catching the expression on their face.
I've never been part of a writers group, or even had one real-life writing friend, at least not since middle school when my friend Raine Beaser and I spent one summer working side by side on our respective "novels." But I've belonged to enough musical groups to know that artists working in tandem produce a lot of creative energy. There's something about the shared experience that boosts everyone's enthusiasm and inspires them to move forward.
I'm craving that experience in my writing world. I'm craving that old-school kind of connection where people sit in the same room together and talk out loud to one another. I think my writing would benefit from it, and so would my soul.
How about you? Do you find your online connections a little lacking at times? Are you able to connect on a personal level with other writers, or other artists who work in your field? If so, is this beneficial?