Monday, October 18, 2010

A lot of writers say that the first step to making a lot of progress on their writing is to turn off the internet. For me, this is not the case. The internet is an incredibly amazing tool for me when I'm writing, and it can speed the process up a lot.

When I was in high school, I wanted to write a novel that had octopus-like aliens in it. But, first, I needed to really know what octopuses look like when they move. I needed to research octopi. So, I went to the library and checked out all the octopus books I could. This was fun and useful, but it didn't show me an octopus in motion. Next, I convinced my mom to take me to the coast for a day, and we hit every aquarium we could find. At one of them, there was an undersea show where a diver went in to the tank, picked an octopus up, and kind of waved its tentacles around. This made me sad, because it wasn't the octopus moving under its own motion and therefore was basically useless to me. At another aquarium, I stared at a sleeping octopus for three hours straight -- it twitched once. (Come to think of it, it's pretty amazing that my mom put up with this...)

Eventually, we did find a documentary video through an inter-library loan program. But... Seriously! That's a long, slow process for learning what octopuses are like when they move.

These days, if I want to write a story with owls in it, I don't have to drive over to the library, dig through the shelves, bring books home, put a video on inter-library loan, and schedule day trips to zoos and wildlife reserves. I can just type "owl" into youtube, and, WITHIN SECONDS, I'm watching and listening to owls! Within minutes, I'm back at my word document writing my story.

So, if I also spend an extra ten minutes writing a post like this... Well, I'm still coming out months ahead.

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