Monday, September 22, 2014

A Week Without Social Media

As you know, I've decided to severely limit my access to social media for the remainder of the year. It seems like a silly, small thing, but it's a big deal to me. I spend a lot of time on it. It's something I kinda do as part of my writing career—it's how I interact with a lot of the online writing community. So cutting it out of my life for the most part has been…interesting.

The first day, I was a bit horrified to note how often I felt the impulse to CHECK. I checked so much before. I checked in the morning, all morning, in the afternoon, evening, middle of the night if I couldn't sleep. Okay, basically I was CHECKING all day long.

Did anyone reply to my tweet/FB status/Instagram picture/Tumblr post?

Did any of my friends announce something important I need to reply to or talk about?

Did anything of note happen in the writing community?

I have three spare seconds so I'm a little bored and maybe I should check JUST BECAUSE.

Check. Check. Check.

What I've learned so far is that checking actually takes up a lot of time and brain power. A half hour in the morning, ten minutes here and there, a few minutes while a commercial is playing during my Kdrama. I have been surprised to find how much time I've actually been on social media—I didn't think it was as much as it was.

But more than that, I was shocked to discover how much brain space it was taking up. The best I can do is equate it to waiting for something to bake. You know something's in the oven, and it cannot burn because you want to eat it, so you keep it in your mind while you go and do something. But you can't do something TOO engrossing because you cannot forget that the oven is on, so you do something to pass the time while also thinking about the freaking oven and don't forget the oven CHECK ON THE OVEN.

So I was distracted all the time. Checking the oven to see if my tweets had turned into…something, I guess. Meaningful social interaction? Validation that I'm not just shouting to the void? I have no idea, at least not yet. Maybe I'll figure out in time what I was checking for.

Without the ability to check—because I've had the websites blocked from my network so I can't even cheat easily—my life has been…quiet. And nice, actually. All the outside voices in publishing have vanished, and all that's left is my close writing friends, agent, editors, and the few people who feel like emailing me. It's really hard to compare myself when I'm missing all the deals, reveals, tour announcements, etc. I just feel a lot better about myself as a writer in general. I didn't think it would happen so quickly, but I'm glad for it.

The most surprising (which shouldn't be surprising but I'm pretty slow) is how my brain now has room to THINK. And in thinking comes STORIES. And REVISIONS. And PLOT FIXES. I didn't realize how much social media was muting my ability to work, purely because I was a bit distracted waiting for the oven and not able to focus my full thoughts on my own work. I wasn't abiding the ever-useful advice of "Keep your eyes on your own paper."

I still often want to check. I kinda want to check right now because this will be the first blog post I write without linking it to social media outlets in a long time, and I am scared no one will see it and pat me on the head for writing something. I suppose that is my next hurdle—remembering how to write and be okay with no one seeing it.

I think I'll get there.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Being Not A Writer

I used to want to be a writer more than anything else in the whole wide world. In many ways, I think this is still true. But lately I've been finding myself not daydreaming of imaginary worlds and publishing success—instead my mind is filled with quite the opposite.

I want to be in my real world.

I want to play video games for a whole day straight with my husband and not feel guilty about looming deadlines. I want to hang out with my kids at the park without my mind spinning on a plot arc. I want to go several days without sharing a single thing on social media because my life is mine and I want to keep it to myself. And I want to not read about everyone else's lives online. And I want to draw and paint. I want to run and move and remember that I am more than the words I put on a page.

This is an odd feeling for me. For the majority of my life I've vastly preferred the world in my own head to that of reality. I've had this goal to make a living by sharing those worlds with others. Now that I've shared a lot of words with others, I find myself wanting to greedily hoard all my words and keep them to myself.

Now, please don't start freaking out on me. I'm not depressed or feeling like I'm a horrible writer or something. That's not where any of this is coming from. Oddly enough, I am in a very good place with my writing mentality. I feel capable and experienced. I know I have developed this skill and grown. I love what I create.

I'm just…tired. Burnt out. I mean, it's to be expected after publishing five novels in a 15 month period. That is insane. I do not recommend it. Hindsight, people.

I was so eager to be this thing called an author, and like most debuts was frantic to do all the things all the time for all the people. I knew I would do this to myself, but at the same time I wanted to give it my all. I had to TRY. I am proud of how much I tried. I wouldn't take it back.

But it is time for a break. A BIG break.

Like, until the end of the year.

I'm writing this because part of that break comes in pulling back from social media, and I don't want people to get confused when I'm not interacting with them on certain platforms. I will actually be blocking Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Facebook from being used on my network. I've already removed the apps from my phone.

I will, oddly enough, be keeping my blog and Instagram. When I was thinking about my social media usage and where I feel the best, I discovered I still enjoyed blogging, and Instagram pictures always make me smile and I get no stress from that site. So if you want to interact with me online, check in here, on Instagram, or email me. I will still be around, just not in a big way.

Why am I doing this? Mostly because I need to cleanse my palate, so to speak. I've finished a big run of work, and before I move to the next things I need to be not a writer for a bit. I'm really looking forward to it, and I'm sure I'll be dying to get back to writing by the New Year. I am desperate to feel that passion again. I hope my creative well is overflowing after I take this time to deliberately fill it up. I will keep you all posted on my little non-writing journey this fall/winter, here on my blog.