10/06/2015 11:48 am ET Updated Oct 06, 2016

Internet Distraction: The Writer's Main Dilemma

Listen up authors. It's time to play the writers' game of True or False. Ready? Here goes!

1. The Internet and social media are a boon to all writers; your work and name become known to millions of people and you connect daily as a writer worldwide.

2. The Internet and social media are the bane of all writers; they are distracting, time-consuming, and deter you from what you're supposed to be doing, which is to write!

Time's up, fellow writers. Which statement do you think is true? Would you believe that both are true? It's no surprise that there's an element of truth in both of them.

The Internet has changed the lives of everyone and writers are no exception. It has provided our world with a new means of communication and it is accessible day or night with the click of a mouse. We have benefited from being able to quickly do research and gather data on the web, navigate websites flawlessly, and find just about anything we want to know in ten seconds flat thanks to search engines such as Google. And let's not forget social media; through social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on, we get to "meet" like-minded individuals, promote our books, and socialize. This all sounds so good, so positive; how can it be a bane to anyone?

Though there are many positives, (thank the gods for quick and easy research and websites), there are some strong negative aspects to the Internet especially for writers. Let's take the negative of social media first. Number one, social media networking takes a lot of one's time.

We check our social contacts daily. You can become so focused on checking social media that you end up wasting precious writing time sitting at computer or scrolling through other peoples' lives.You get caught up in the social media whirl and it draws you in. Yes, the baby is cute, and oh, the kittens and puppies are adorable, but the real reason you should be checking Facebook or Twitter during any writing session should be reserved for professional contacts and activities that directly relate to your writing. The most productive way to use social media is to remember this rule: you don't have to have or use every one. Choose the channels where more of your target audience (readers, publishers, agents) are and focus on communicating through them. Save a small window of time, (one hour, yes, seriously, one hour), to be "just sociable" and make it an unbreakable rule.

Now let's tackle the Internet. I don't know about you but there were too many times when my research lead me to websites that had nothing to do with what I was actually researching. I may have begun to research a topic for a murder mystery story I was writing when I saw a headline that said they've found the tomb of Nefertiti. Then a video on a tiny dog chasing bears away from the family home will have gotten my attention and before I knew it the original reason I was on the Internet had been totally forgotten and I was eye-weary and headache-y from going from one Internet issue to the next, my writing put on hold. The rule here is: Being a good writer is 3% hard work and 97% not getting distracted by the Internet. It took willpower and determination to only search what I actually needed that broke my Internet addiction. Searching for fun and pleasure had to be limited.

Authors are notorious for being procrastinators and that is true for many artistic people. Creativity is a process that takes true concentration and we love the process. But as much as we authors love writing, it is after all, still work. A little distraction can be helpful in keeping the creative juices flowing.

The power of the Internet and social media is vast and wonderful for all people, most especially authors. Using both wisely and productively is key. Keep your social life and your fun searches separate from your professional commitments is rule number for the success.

Stay focused! Happy Writing.

Grave Misgivings, book 2 in the popular Cate Harlow Private Investigation series is now available where all books are sold.

Copyright 2015 Kristen Houghton The Savvy Author all rights reserved