Google and the Brain of a Writer

I recently read an article about Google searches and the effects on memory of relying on it as an instant gratification tool for knowledge. Though, of course, I can no longer find the link or the article or any trace that I have read what I know I’ve read. Ironically, this occurs to me to make my coming point rather nicely.

Research shows that our memory is indeed affected by our overuse of Google as a means to obtaining or “remembering” items of information. Rather than having to know what we know, we can conveniently forget that we know something because it is too easy to access our laptops, iPhones, Droids, whatever, in search of instantly attaining any information we’ve lost.

My question has more to do with story “ideas.” Does Google, and its effects on memory (and, I assume, other higher functions of the creative brain), and my reliance – at times – on it to find images, interesting news stories, and other possible ideas for writing affect my ability to create? Has my creativity – my ability to brainstorm ideas and images and draw on life experience for inspiration – been negatively effected by this method of brainstorming? How does this Google-mining effect my ability to write?

I have been in a block for a few months. Perhaps this is one way of trying to answer the why of the lack of production.

Perhaps there’s no link between Google and creativity. Is it distraction? It occurs to me that with all this information at our fingertips, it is so much easier to be distracted by everything then it ever has been. Facebook, Twitter, movie trailers, YouTube, Amazon, sports scores, stumbling, new books, old books, that actor whose name I can’t remember. It’s hard not to return to that homepage of Facebook, the empty username and password fields beckoning, and dive back in, to be connected, to know everything that’s going on with everyone you know right now.

I’d be interested in knowing of other writers who have thought about this distraction or the effect Google has on the creative brain. What do you think about Google-mining and writer’s block? Is there something there? Or, am I talking myself out of writing? This all brings to mind a Jonathan Franzen quote about writing: “It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.”



One thought on “Google and the Brain of a Writer

  1. You know, I think it can be a distraction. Most of us are so skilled at multi-tasking that we rarely give our full undivided attention. That said, Google and networking are powerful tools. I say ‘time and place’ is key. Most of the time I start a story the good old fashioned way-with a notebook and a pen 🙂 It keeps me focused.

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