I haven’t been keeping up with blogs well because I’m very busy working on a 2000 word article on “Fear” for a Mental Health reference book. You’d think a horror writer would be perfect for such an article, but it’s not about my “thoughts” on fear, or about anything to do with writing horror fiction. (I have plenty of thoughts on those.) It’s about the physical and mental attributes that accompany fear, and how these are controlled in the brain. I’m enjoying it, but am finding it fairly effortful. I know the general physiology but there are a lot of details that I need a refresher on. Just below is the abstract of the piece, which will give you an idea of the focus.
Fear is an unpleasant emotion that occurs in response to an immediate and identifiable threat, usually of an external nature. It includes physiological elements such as increased heart rate and muscular tension, behaviors such as running or hiding, and hormonal changes like the release of epinephrine (adrenaline). It should be differentiated from “anxiety,” where the threat is only anticipated and is often not specifically identifiable. Fear is largely adaptive, in that it prepares us for immediate danger, while anxiety is maladaptive, in that it occurs to threats that cannot be controlled or avoided.
To bring this post around to writing, though, I’ve seen other writers talk about the internet and how it can distract one from writing. I agree that one can get caught up in surfing and lose sight of your writing goals, but--for me--net access has become extremely important to my productivity and the speed with which I can complete projects. However, this is true only for nonfiction. I just finished two other nonfiction articles and I had the net up almost the entire time while I was writing them. I was able to fact check at a click of the mouse, and was able to access journal articles and historical documents galore to give me just the details I needed when I needed them. My productivity level with nonfiction is three or four times what it was before I had regular net access. I would have had to spend a lot more time in libraries and ordering material through interlibrary loan. That time now is spent in actual writing.
With fiction, however, I tend to write away from the net. Oh, I find it helpful on occasion to quick check facts online about sailing ships, or weapons, or various props that are used in my story, but fiction is not primarily factual. Stories need mood and atmosphere, and the net can’t give me that. Also, fiction is hard, harder to me than nonfiction, and when I get to a sticking point on a story I can so easily allow myself to “see if there are any comments on my blog,” or “check my email.” This is the death knell for “flow.” A sticking point in nonfiction can be broken by more research. A sticking point in fiction usually can’t, because it’s not about the facts but about the “feel.”
How about you? What’s your take on the net and writing. Helpful in all cases? Harmful? Or is it different for different forms of writing?