Stuck in the Infinite Loop (or Why I’m Not on Twitter)

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on June 7, 2013 in Anecdote, Technology, Writing |

(Update: I have since joined twitter @katielcarroll and while it certainly does add to my Infinite Loop, well it’s proving to be entertaining and a good networking tool.)

So there’s this thing that sometimes happens to me when I get on the Internet…on those days when I just can’t focus on my WIP or my editorial work. When I log on (okay, really I just click on b/c my whole house is set up for wireless connection and I don’t have to really ‘log on’ anymore…and my smartphone is always tapped into the Internet), I find myself what I like to refer to as ‘quagmired’ in the Internet.

The first thing I generally do is check my personal email: read all my new messages, delete most of them, respond to a few, and file a few for future reference. Then I often check Facebook…just for a few minutes to see what people have posted since the last time I was on or to maybe jot down an update of my own.

Then I check my second email account. This one is more of an authorial/editorial account where I correspond with many of my author friends (some of this is done on the personal account as well), get my update feeds for several Yahoo groups I’m in, and for all my general editorial stuff with the Muse. Usually a quick Facebook check happens here, and perhaps an update on Goodreads.

My third email account is strictly for edits/correspondence with authors whose books I’m editing. (Oh, and this is the one that’s linked into my blogger account, so when I subscribe to receive comment notifications from a blog feed, it gets sent here.) At any point along here stick in a stats check on my book on Amazon rankings.

If I have a blog post up for the day, I will usually go in and check out my stats and then reply to any comments. Or I’ll work on a post for the next day. Then I might peruse some of the blogs I follow. Then I’m likely to head over to Verla Kay’s—soon to be in conjunction with SCBWI—blueboards (if you’re a kidlit writer, you should totally be on these). Of course, then I check Facebook.

And forget about productivity if I have anything out on submission; whatever email account is the contact will incessantly get checked all day like I have some sort of nervous tic.

But that’s not where it stops. No, because by now so much time has passed that I need to start the whole cycle over. Personal email account: check. Facebook: check. Authorial/editorial email account: check. Editing email account: check. Facebook: check. Website: check. Amazon: check. Blueboards: check. And then I’m back at the beginning and I do it all again. If eyes could get whiplash, well, I’d have to go see a specialist at this point.

I call this getting stuck in the Infinite Loop.

So I try to imagine if I was more involved in other social media sites, like Twitter and Pinterest. Sites that maybe would help me market my writing platform if I used them. But then I panic about the thought of adding more into the Infinite Loop. What if the Loop got so big it didn’t just suck me in on the occasional day? What if it starting eking into a second day? What if the loop snatched up a whole week? What if I never wrote another word because I couldn’t get out of the Loop, days disappearing in a haze of 140-character snippets?

Then I take a deep breath and remind myself that I control the Infinite Loop. With just one click (or maybe a few, depending on how many windows I’m rotating through), I can vanquish the Loop from my day and stick to being on the Internet a reasonable amount of time. I am only a slave to the Loop if I allow myself to be. The emails, the Facebook feed, the discussion board will all be there when I have time to get to it. And it’s not likely that I’ll miss anything really important.

Sometimes I just have to realize I don’t need to do everything. Stick to the things that reward me either personally or professionally and forget the rest (Twitter be damned).

I’d ask you what sucks up your precious time, but, umm, I’m getting little twitchy and have to go check my email…

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  • I hate that loop! Yes, we can end it, but it’s so hard. I wonder if the internet is a monster and this social networking (I love the people on here, so don’t get me wrong!) is the way an alien speices is slowly taking over our planet. Could happen, right? 🙂

  • Jody Casella says:

    Wow. I feel like you have told my story–that endless checking and rechecking cycle through all of social media. We need a support group or something. Break the addiction. Hi, I am Jody and I am a infinite-loop-a-holic! Help! (of course, if I hadn’t been checking and rechecking, I might not have stumbled upon your post…)

    • Oh, I totally need that support group, Jody. Hi, I’m Katie and I’m an infinite-loop-a-holic! LOL! Glad you found my little post among all the loopiness.

  • Then there’s what I’m going through. I’m ignoring blog, etc. because I need to get some writing done. I have no blogs lined up because I’m more interested in how my unicorn feels or that terrible battle scene.

  • Meradeth says:

    LOL!!! I completely know all about the infinite loop. (I’m in the middle of my morning one at the moment!) It’s amazing how it can suck so much time. I’ve been trying to find ways to limit myself lately, and usually that means getting out of the house. Doesn’t always work, but a lousy net connection away from my main computer does help.

    • That’s exactly what I did this morning, Meradeth. Got out of the house and went to my local cafe…and DID NOT sign on to the Internet connection. And wouldn’t you know, it was a very productive morning writing wise.

  • Oh yes, the loop is EVIL. Same reason I haven’t given in to Twitter or Pinterest (yet.)

  • Mary Waibel says:

    That loop is so easy to get caught up in. Good reminder that we’re able to step away from it- so we can sit down and write (or read!)

  • It’s like you were writing this post for ME! I am often stuck in this “infinite loop.” I think I need to better budget my time…You’re right, we must control the cycle before it controls us!

  • Leona Pence says:

    OMG! The aliens have grabbed us all. And it’s nice to know we won’t fade away if we decide to break the connection.

    Nice post, thank you.

  • Jeff Chapman says:

    I totally sympathize. And a “few minutes” of checking often explodes into an hour or more. I now feel kind of guilty about sending emails or even making this comment. I’m keeping you from writing. : )

    • You know I’m always happy to hear from you, Jeff. I don’t count editing time (which includes correspondence with the authors I work with) as time away from writing.

  • Ann Herrick says:

    I know what you mean–I love the internet, but it can be a real time suck!

  • Mirka Breen says:

    One of the perils of the internet is that you begin to think you’ve been places you haven’t (physically) been to, and done things (actually) you only participated in virtually. But that’s another post altogether.

    • Oh, good point, Mirka. I hadn’t really thought of virtual life vs. real life in quite that way before. Definitely good fodder for a post on another day.

  • Erin says:

    Great post!! I am an infinite looper too!! 😉 Twitter has been an AMAZING resource, but I feel tethered to it at the same time. I left my phone in the hotel room and went down to the pool without it for two hours. I felt both liberated and panicked. It’s one of those blessing and curse situations!!

  • Yep, I’m stuck right now. I’m definitely a club member. Since I missed being on the computer yesterday, my inbox is jammed. I hate to let my friends down by not participating in what they have going today. I don’t twitter or goodreads, yet I can’t break the cycle and just ignore or delete. HELP!!!

  • K.L. Pickett says:

    This sounds just like me!

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