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How the internet helps me write

Some Twitter inspiration. Twitter-spiration? Hmm.

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In an earlier post I sang the praises of turning off the Internet (and using Freedom) for getting actual work done, but when it comes to getting past my own anxiety and fear–and sometimes just getting through the day–I need my online connections. I don’t know what I ever did without the Internet. O, Internet! You make everything better. When you’re not encouraging me to goof off.

I’m incredibly lucky to be able to write full-time, but it’s certainly an isolating lifestyle. And I’m in Brooklyn, where you can’t walk more than a half block without stumbling into a writer. (Usually a writer who’s won the National Book Award. They’re all over the place!) Still, though, knowing there are writers around isn’t the equivalent of forming a community, and it’s not easy to walk up to someone slaving away at their laptop at the local cafe and ask them to be your friend. (I’ve tried this. It so rarely works.) Besides, even if you have a lively group of writer-friends, most of the time you’re still at home, alone, writing. Alone.

Did I mention that you’re alone? Without people? I mean, I have my cat and dog, but they take any kind of conversation as a cue to demand treats. So rude.

Even the most introverted need other people around sometimes, and I am definitely not the most introverted of people. This is why I depend on my online community. I need to check in on Twitter to read that other people are, you know, existing. That other writers are also at work, writing. Or that a beloved writer like Susan Orlean is having a bad day of work, or that someone as award-laden as Colson Whitehead can be plagued with doubts and ennui.

If I need a hit of inspiration, I’ll visit Advice to Writers, an endless bounty of quotes from celebrated authors. And if I need to laugh or want to feel like less of an idiot, I check out Slush Pile Hell, the responses of a frustrated literary agent to inane queries. I might think what I’m writing now is bad, but at least I’m not that deluded. I think. No, I’m sure!

If I’m feeling desperately insecure, I’ll email my more tolerant friends and tell them how much I suck. Usually they disagree.

Sure, I can succumb to the comforting murmur of Twitter or Facebook and suddenly realize my day is gone and I didn’t get real work done. I have to be careful to not do more than dip in and out a couple of times a day. And between those times, I use Freedom to give me the strength to stay away. But when I’m taking a break, I need to that sense of community to keep my spirits and my energy up. I don’t know how I’d do this otherwise.

And you? Do you guys have any favorite sites or resources for writers? Please tell me so that I can waste more time. I MEAN BE INSPIRED.

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