watching, reading, and writing stories

A week without the Internet

No Internet

So, not that many of you would notice, because I fairly regularly go a week or more without posting, but I have had no working internet at my home for the past week and a half. Today it was finally fixed, and I think it’s an appropriate topic for a blog post.

I have a feeling that most people who lose their internet feel like they lose their life. How can you manage without e-mail, Facebook, Youtube, and Google to answer all your questions? And in one sense I have to agree, it’s a hard thing to get used to. I’ve been on trips where I wasn’t able to use my phone, or the internet but I always had something to do. This time, I was at home, and trying to go through my daily routine without the internet to help me.

I found that I could go to a local wifi hotspot to check e-mails, and luckily I have 3G on my phone so I can still use Google Maps when driving. But a large part of my life was changed. I couldn’t watch Netflix, or Youtube, I couldn’t print papers or update my Facebook status. Life changed… but actually I’m quite thankful for it.

During this time of year, I don’t have a lot going on, so I wasn’t stressed. Instead, not being online forced me to find other ways to fill my time. I can hardly believe how much reading I got done in this past week, just because I couldn’t watch silly videos on Youtube. I even started working on my second novel today. I hadn’t done that in months. Not having the internet, freed me to do other things.

Also during the Holiday weekend when I got to spend time with my family, we had to do so without the internet. We didn’t sit on our phones, each engaged in our devices and ignoring each other. Instead we talked, really talked. And let me tell you, that’s a lot more meaningful than a two minute video of a cat playing with a laser pointer.

In fact, I enjoyed this time enough, that I think I will make it a weekly habit, and not use the internet for one day out of the week. I can take the time to keep reading one of the many books I’ve started, or catch up with an old friend. And I would encourage you to give it a try too.

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How to write in a fastpaced world

I’ve noticed recently that storytelling has changed in recent years. I supposed it’s always changing, but it’s so gradual that we don’t notice it. However, if you ever go back to something written or filmed years ago, the change is very apparent. I was watching Knight Rider, a TV show from the 80s on Netflix the other day and I realized how slow the plot seemed to move along. There were several scenes of the characters just walking or looking at each other without dialogue. It seemed awkward, and a little boring. At some points I just had to laugh, because the acting seemed so fake. Granted, this was the first season, so I’m sure some things improved once the show got rolling. But there was still a major difference between that show, and any other 1 hour TV show that is airing now.

I was talking with some fellow writers about the changing culture and the impact social media has had on how we write stories. We’re so used to instant messaging, instant access, something always grabbing our attention, that a slowly built story is very hard to get through. It’s ‘boring’ unless we take the time to invest in it and get caught into the story. This kind of ties in to one of my earlier posts about giving myself time to read a book and actually get sucked in to the plot. I’m so used to my time being torn between little responses to texts and messages that it can be hard to just sit and focus on one thing for an extended period of time. Even now as I’m writing this blog, I’m messaging with a friend on Facebook.

So with all these little distractions and instant entertainment, I believe the way to write a story has shifted. As I’m working on my own novel, I find myself trying to throw in action and suspense at every turn so my readers will stay interested. Instead of a long history to set up the story, I jump right into the suspense. Otherwise my readers will get bored and stop reading. I’m also trying to give less descriptions, or complicated images and instead rely heavily on action and dialogue.

The ladies I was talking to suggested that because we can see so many things with TV, internet, and movies, we don’t need to be told what something looks like. Earlier writers had to describe things that their readers may never have seen before, but if we really want to know what something looks like, we could Google an image.

Of course, my opinion isn’t the only one that matters. Feel free to give me your opinion on the current culture’s influence on writing. I’d love to hear it.