From time to time, I really resent the Internet.
Mostly I enjoy it, but like everything else, once you start to make a living thanks to something, a bit of bitterness always creeps in.
Earlier this month, I went on a writers’ retreat with SCBWI and it was everything and more. Beautiful sights, excellent food, all the coffee you can want, and fantastic company. Sure, my word count at the end wasn’t that impressive, but I came out of it with more motivation and enthusiasm than I’d had in months. Moreover, I came out of it with a feeling of hope and excitement. What, pray, lies around the corner? How can I make this novel better? That’s the sort of thing writers live for – enthusiasm for a project.
It’s now almost three weeks later, so the momentum has died down. Instead of getting out of bed at 6 AM, and letting my coffee go cold at my elbow as I banged out a bunch of new words, I get out of bed at 6 AM and stare at a screen for two hours, going “Kill me now, this is rubbish.”
This is all quite familiar – anyone who’s tried NaNoWriMo will know what it’s like, to start a project and lose your mojo. It doesn’t matter how well you planned your project or if you’re a sticker for deadlines. It’s natural. You move on. There were stumps and blocks and demotivating things and distractions long before the Internet. When I was doing my undergraduate degree, during revision I would read three or four trashy romance novels, one after the other, wasting days on bad fantasy sex and emotional porn (hence why my Kindle library looks like an extended spread on abs in a fitness mag).
But this post isn’t just about the Internet being an extra banana peel. It also lays down many cushions for you to fall on, places interesting box sets right within reach, and when you do try to get up and get on with it, it conjures up a thousand hands to hold you down, in the form of blogs and social media updates about how pointless your job is.
Much like anxious sick people who were turned away from their GP’s appointments turn to WebMD and come out thinking they have cancer, struggling writers are always one Google search away from convincing themselves they are worthless hacks who are better off sacrificing their energies at the altar of investment banking. Or else, wasting away in the dead zone of make-up videos and fancy new gadgets. It’s where I found myself today and where I’ve been finding myself a lot, googling articles on the hardships of writing and the true meaning of rejection. Even when the time comes to do my actual job and lay aside the writing, my brain throws a tantrum.
There’s no point.
Let’s read trashy romance instead.
(That is not to say there is no room for trashy romance in the world. My God, I am a huge fan of trashy romance. Trashy romance FTW. But I do need to get my papers written on time.)
There is something else, something that often gets overlooked when we talk about what we read on the Internet. There is a lot of it. An overwhelming volume of it. So much so that it is hard, if you’re not looking, to get a balanced view of anything.