Writers: The Answers You’re Looking for Are Not on the Internet

Flying BooksWhenever the tiniest inkling of a question hits me these days, I find myself reaching for my phone to Google the answer. And I’ve noticed it’s gotten worse over the past few years. My instinct to Google has really ramped up since I have a laptop at home, one at the office, and a smartphone always in my pocket. Sometimes I find the answer quickly (How many Academy Awards has Al Pacino won?) and sometimes I have to search deeper and stumble across information I didn’t even know I was looking for (What does “New Thought” mean?).

But sometimes—particularly with the deep questions—I find a lot of hype and noise, and very little meaningful insight. This is the result of living in a society that has, what feels like, unlimited information at its fingertips. But in reality we’re all still human, and humans have limits. We don’t know everything and we can’t know everything, even if the illusion of believing that we do makes us feel safer.

The internet definitely contributes to that illusion.

The internet is possibly one of the most powerful examples of humanity continuously relying on unquestioned answers. Our online personas feel secure in having a solid opinion, being sure of what’s right, and having information delivered in neatly packaged articles, in bold letters with easy-to-skim bullet points if at all possible.

This sort of energy can easily stifle and shut down creative folks. It is our passion and purpose in life to search our own soul, not to answer the questions, but to question the answers we’ve been given by others. The writer’s life gives birth to this constant search and dies without the search ever having been completed. And the writing we do is a part of that search.

This is why so many writers are drawn to books from an early age. Our intuition tells us that books hold something secret and important for us, that they’re like living beings, full of magic and love. A writer like C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien can help us dream bigger, and drink more deeply of life. They can help us discover what we think, and what we really believe, instead of what’s trending now.

Of course, there are books out there that are very similar to what you’ll find on the internet, books that serve as platforms for rigid opinions, dogma, and the who’s-right-who’s-wrong mentality. But the advertising in a bookstore is not so insidious as it is on Facebook or Yahoo, and the energy is different. Test it out for yourself. Walk through a bookstore and browse around. How do you feel after 20 minutes? Probably pretty darn good. Then browse around in the Yahoo News section online. Now how do you feel? Probably angry, disgruntled, and just plain icky.

The internet itself is not the problem. In fact, I believe that humankind has taken a giant leap forward in the online age of information. The problem is that human brains have a hard time being mindful in certain situations, and there are so many companies and media organizations that take advantage of this fact to draw people online into negative energy and polarized opinions.

If you are a writer or artist, this can be toxic to your creative welfare.

To produce great art, the writer needs to be tapped into the flow of the universe. In order to tap into this flow, we must approach life with a sense of reverence and awe. The story we’re writing is the form we give to our individual experience and expression. In order to let this experience take shape, we must let life unfold moment-to-moment in front of us. We must become comfortable in the unknown.

If you’re feeling a distinct lack of reverence and awe towards life, mindfully restricting what you look at online could help. If you’re feeling a definite lack of joy in the act of writing, turning off your social media feed and turning back to the books you loved as a child could help you bring that joy back.

This week, take a hiatus from reading your regular blogs and online how-to guides on how to write. Immerse yourself in a book you love and fly on the wings of your imagination instead. It might bring up more questions for you than answers, but if you’re serious about living the writing life that’s the whole point.

If you found this article helpful, you might be interested in:

How Important Is It to Be a “Famous” Writer

Why I Never Got an MFA

Essential Skills for Writers: Having the Courage to Make Up Your Own Rules

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4 Comments

  • Reply Mae Fisher 6 August, 2015 at 9:41 am

    I agree almost completely–there is a definite difference between the philosophies presented on internet newsrooms or the blogoshpere, and the ideas written in books (perhaps the longer writing/editing process helps with this). My only caveat then would be this: in books, blogs and (very rarely) the news, I think there are still universal Truths presented, and I differentiate between those versus a hardheaded opinion. What do you think?

    And I really like your site, by the way. 🙂

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 10 August, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Thanks Mae! Yes, I do agree with you. The key is to take things on a case-by-case basis, and take the time to examine deeply the information being presented.

  • Reply hilarycustancegreen 7 August, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Oh such an attractive idea! Actually, I think the Just So Stories are on my bedside cabinet.

  • Reply Victoria Griffin 8 August, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Wonderful post. The internet can be a wonderful research for writers. It allows us to find details about points of view we could not otherwise experience. It can also be a hindrance when the instant information takes the place of inspiration drawn from our environment. Definitely something to contemplate.

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