Fidgety fingers and internet addiction

I wrote the first drafts of my first three novels with pen on paper. I did it not because I’m in love with ink and notebooks, value them over all the wonders of modern technology. No, it was partly so I could focus, partly to force an extra round of self-editing. I’ve got nothing against computers. I think they’re wonderful. In fact, the most recent novel, the unpublished one, I wrote almost completely on a computer. Why? Seemed to make sense at the time. And the tone and style I was aiming for was punchier, shorter, so it felt okay.

But I might have to go back to pen and paper. For fiction at any rate. I’ve been working on a short story this week, in the morning hours before I sign on for work. The first half of it I wrote in a notebook. But I’ve typed that up and am forging ahead on the keyboard. This isn’t affecting the writing style or the tone.

But there is a matter of distraction. We all know we’re addicted to the interwebs, etc. And it mostly happens these days on our phone. You’re always looking at the thing, even on the toilet, even when you’ve got two other screens going. Even if you’re watching a commercial-free Netflix program.

And I’ve been embarrassed this week at my behavior. It’s not even that I NEED to check Twitter and Facebook every five minutes. I CAN walk away. (Sure, Ken. Sure you can.) But I noticed that every time I ended a paragraph or written thought and paused to figure out what would happen next, my hands almost automatically started the process of switching to a new tab. It didn’t even matter which tab. They just wanted to open something. My mind wanted to look at something. To keep things flowing into it. Disgusting.

I got that urge somewhat under control. Yes, it can be done. You simply have to put some effort into it. But just when I got the desktop urges under control, my hand went and grabbed the phone and opened Twitter–which is also open in one of those tabs on the desktop. Like I said. Embarrassing. And scary!

So it’s either back to the notebook. Or I sit on my hands between paragraphs.

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