To a blogger, Internet access is much like electricity or water, it is an essential for business and, without it, a home becomes almost unlivable in a hurry.
Unfortunately, even though Internet access is becoming more and more reliable, it is a virtual guarantee that it will go down at some point and not just for a little while. Where we can generally count on our power being restored pretty quickly or getting our water turned on in short order after an outrage, our phone and cable companies may not be able to get our Web access back on for a day or more at a time.
This problem was highlighted for me during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. My neighborhood in New Orleans was spared the worst of the storm and I returned home, after three weeks away, to find my home safe and already had power, water and gas restored. Internet, however, would not be restored for another two weeks.
So how do we have to accept, at least for now, that Internet access just isn’t as reliable as we would like it to be and that can impact our blogging, especially since it’s an activity that, at some point, requires Internet access to take place.
So how do we overcome it? There are many ways, but some a probably more beneficial than others.
The nature of the pitfall is fairly simple. Blogging, and many of the activities that we do related to it, require Internet access. Considering that most bloggers don’t just upload posts, they also use Facebook, Twitter, IM, email and other communication methods along with their blog, it can seem as if we are always online.
But the problem is that Internet access is far from a reliable thing in most places. Though it is getting better, it isn’t a public work like power of water and outages, problems and issues are somewhat common. Even if your Internet doesn’t go completely out, your sites can go down due to a hosting problem or a routing issue between points A and B may prevent you from accessing some of the sites you need.
Unfortunately, depending on where you are and the nature of your provider, these outages can last a lot longer than regular outages on other services. For example, if your home Internet goes out, your provider may not be able to send out a technician for one to two days, leaving you without access for up to 48 hours, assuming that they are actually able to fix the issue.
Couple this with every other potential problem with access and it’s quick to see that we can’t count on our Internet to be there when we open up the browser, at least not from a planning standpoint, and it makes sense, as people who depend on it for their livelihoods, to plan for that eventuality.
How to Avoid It
The simplest solution is to always have a backup Internet access available. Cell phone access, whether through tethering, a USB dongle or a mobile hotspot, can be a great backup for these times. However, the price of these plans are often prohibitive for making them practical as a backup for the few days a year when our regular access isn’t working.
Instead, it’s probably better to focus on finding alternate Internet access elsewhere. With nearly every coffee shop, restaurant and even some bars offering free wifi, you can almost certainly find some place nearby that has Internet access in a pinch.
It may be inconvenient to work out of your local Starbucks or McDonald’s for a day, but it’s better than not having access at all and, sometimes, a change in scenery can really help creativity. In short, it might be just the break from the norm you need.
However, that approach isn’t very practical for short-term outages and may not be practical at all for those without laptops or netbooks. In those cases you may need to learn to do without and, instead of finding new access, finding ways to be productive when you can’t get online.
Fortunately, there is a lot that you can do even without Web access, including the following:
- Write: Open up an offline word processor and just flat out write. You may not be able to do all of your formatting, add links or find images, but you can write and you may find it easier without distractions.
- Brainstorm: Nothing to write? Brainstorm ideas for new posts and put them in a list or, if you can, schedule them on a calendar.
- Answer Email: If you’re behind on your email, offline time is often the best chance you’ll get to answer it. Considering you can even access Gmail offline, there’s not much reason to not have offline access to your mail.
- Read: One of the best practices for writing is reading. Not only do you have books, magazines and offline materials you might have been neglecting, but services like Instapaper let you read online materials offline.
- Take a Break: Sometimes the Internet going out (or the power) can be a blessing, take a break and do something else for a while, maybe go for a walk and recharge.
All in all, there is a lot that you can do without Web access and it’s probably best not to look at being without access as being helpless, but as being forced to change tasks or approaches.
As frustrating as it is to be without Internet access, especially for a longer period of time, it’s best to try and use it as an opportunity and not as a problem. There is little reason to have extended downtime when dealing with such a problem and, even if you do wind up with some because of it, you can easily make the most of it.
As difficult as it can be to fall out of schedule, it’s an inevitability sometimes and not a disaster in and of itself. Besides, even if you do nothing, it can help you recharge and come back fresh, especially if you’ve been going strong for a while.
In short, even if you have to take some time away and can’t get a few things done, try to enjoy it. You might find that the time away was the best thing for you.