Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Internet? Helpful Tool or Distraction

By Stacy S. Jensen 

Since I'm trying to stay focused this month, I'm going to be on #TeamHelpfulTool.

Full disclosure: I could be the poster child for a distracted Internet user. I fall down my fair share of rabbit holes.


But, overall, I am more productive as a writer, because I have access to the Internet.

While working on a non-fiction, picture book biography, I was able to use the Internet to:

  • Track down specialized books on my subject. Thank you Worldcat.org.
  • Search large and specialty online bookstores for title availability.
  • Purchase title from an historical society. They had a small online. Instead of calling them or having to put a check in the mail for the book, I was able to find the title and order it in a few moments and outside of their business hours, but during mine.
  • Conduct several Internet searches for my research subject.
  • Collect digital copies of files. I'm sort of old school creating PDFs and saving links via email. If I were really tech savvy, I might use Evernote or my Trello boards to collect this data. Babysteps. I am working towards this.
  • Use EasyBib  to create a bibliography to track my sources.

Of course, after all my online tasks, I went offline to read books and take notes. Soon, I'll make an in-person trip to my subject's last home. While some of this could be accomplished via online research, I'm grateful for the opportunity to visit in person. Plus, I will see how a writer many decades ago lived and worked before the Internet and running water.

I try to use the Internet for good whether it's asking for the perfect owl name for a fiction story or speaking with writers on a daily basis about their stories and the process.

The Internet is a good thing for me.

How do you use the Internet to write? What's your most helpful tool?

About the Author: Stacy S. Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and son.