There’s no doubt that the Internet is a fantastic resource for fledgling and established writers alike. You can tweet, friend, and chat with editors, agents, and other writers. You can do research to find an agent, or participate in various discussion forums about hot topics in publishing.

And of course, there’s the juicy publishing gossip—which editors have quit to become agents? Which agents have quit to become editors? Which editors/agents have quit publishing cold turkey?

I make it a point not to read author discussion boards or forums, but on the few occasions I’ve stumbled across a discussion between authors, the tone and content of some of the discussions has caused me great concern. Which authors submitted what to whom? Which agents have accepted, rejected, never replied? Some authors even go as far as keeping tallies of how many fulls and partials they have out, as well as posting verbatim copies of their rejection letters for all to see.

So the question is this: When does use of the Internet as a valuable tool for gaining knowledge about your writing, making connections, and getting your work published become plain old Internet chatter?

I’m a firm believer that too much Internet chatter makes writers less productive, as it fosters a less-than-savory keeping up with the Joneses type mentality:

“So-and-so has gotten four requests for a full ms and I haven’t gotten any.”

“I submitted to agent X three weeks before my friend, and she’s already gotten a response and I haven’t.”

While I think it’s great to have support and a place to connect with other writers who are going through the same process, obsessing over this type of minutia takes writers away from the most important part of their job.

So have fun Tweeting and Facebooking and chatting. But as you do these things please, please, please don’t lose focus on what brought you here in the first place.

Say it with me now: Writing a great book!