My father, who wrote in the pre-internet days, I believe was a more driven writer than me.
He says he was at peace with his writing. He would be less compelled to distractions. He would write waywardly essays, occasional poems, short stories, and a couple of journal entries every few weeks. And most importantly, he’d be happy with what he wrote.
I wish I could say the same.
As someone who is accustomed to the virtual space, I feel a strange compulsion to just be visible everywhere — Facebook, Instagram, my Blog, and everywhere else.
This has made me anxious in my writing too. I write more, but also suffer more blocks.
For instance, I am working on five different writing projects this month — an editing assignment, a copywriting task, my own manuscript, my website post, and book reviews. Besides, I am constantly posting on social media spaces, scrolling through the feeds, and clicking on random links to consume irrelevant content.
The Problem of Plenty
Today’s writers are consumed by the problem of plenty. The digital world is chaotic and noisy. We are getting lost in a plethora of tasks that don’t even matter in our journey of becoming writers of merit.
Every minute, there are hundreds of social media posts and updates. Every hour of our lives is a documented travesty of Instagram and Facebook feeds — and these things have become the hallmarks of this century.
Creativity is On the Ascent
Just as there are two sides to a coin there are two sides to writing in the digital age too.
Today, so many people I know want to write a book. Some have blogs and some are using social media to express themselves. The writing space has been democratized.
Whether it be in the form of micro tales, twitter tweets, Instagram captions, or Facebook posts — more and more people are expressing themselves through written words.
Now there are sites with templates to help writers through a guided plan for accomplishing their writing projects in a structured manner.
The resources are unlimited— we’ve easily accessible guides, online courses, tutorials, workshops, manuals, and everything else we need to become prolific writers — and hence, creativity is on an ascent.
Furthermore, with the rise of self-publishing companies and e-book publishers like Amazon, writing and publishing have become a cakewalk. And so has the distribution of books. Now you don’t need to go to the bookstore or wait for a month to get your books — you’re only a few clicks away from all the short stories, novels, and poems out there.
And that’s why I don’t complain about being born in the wrong era.
Yes, the digital age certainly has introduced some challenges. But it’s not like there are no solutions to these problems.
Back to the Basics
When it comes to improving a writer’s output in quantity and quality in the digital age, habits & discipline are just as important as they were in the pre-internet days.
As William Faulkner famously quipped, “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes at nine every morning.”
The important thing is to build a habit and make it a part of your routine. It could be only 30 minutes a day, but during that appointed time, don’t let anything stand in your way — plug-out the WiFi, turn off your phone’s notification, enable ‘DND’ mode, leave the email, set a timer, and write.
For us writers, having a browser open is either a blessing or a curse. So make sure to observe how it is affecting you. Know what you need to get done. Stick to those priorities. Set Daily Goals. Don’t do anything else until you meet that goal. No calling your mom. No checking email. No posting on Facebook. And definitely, no mindless scrolling on Instagram.
Implement these basic habits and you will never have to complain about the digital world and its digital realities.