I check Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat for updates more often than I would like to admit. Many people seem to think the majority of people who spend multiple hours a day online are “addicted.” I disagree. I can’t wait to unplug this weekend and spend time away from the internet. I enjoy keeping up with friends, people I follow and people who follow me back. I could do without. But as a writer, I’m partially obliged to engage. As a post-grad with college friends spread out around the country, I want to keep in touch.
I’m attached to social media just as much as everyone else. I’m not here to shame you for scrolling through your news feed when you should be writing. We all do it. But as much as you want to “quit,” there are reasons being thrown at you constantly, telling you all the reasons you can’t.
You have to have an online presence or you’ll never get published/find readers.
You have to interact with other writers as often as possible, even if that means online.
You can’t just have a bunch of social profiles. You have to update them constantly. Daily. Multiple times daily. You have to show you’re alive and involved and ENTHUSIASTIC.
I’m not going to get too deep into a discussion about social media strategy. It can be overwhelming when you’re trying to keep up with personal friends and family online while also trying to build up your professional brand. Also … sometimes, the things you find online can actually turn out to be abundant sources of inspiration. Even when you aren’t on the lookout for it.
I would love to sign off of social media for days at a time in order to focus on doing more work in less time. However, the inspiration for this post came from an article I found while on Facebook. I often turn to YouTube for a good laugh when I’m feeling “too sad” to write (usually I end up writing anyway, because of those laughs).
What are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to be “social” without taking away valuable writing time? Some people have to choose to focus their social time on their professional profiles only. Some people find a way to blend the two as they do this. Currently, I’m a blender. I don’t have a big enough audience to need separate profiles. I don’t share anything overly personal with the public anyway. Still, it’s distracting. And discouraging, in those moments when you’re addressing people who do follow you and no one’s around to respond.
I’m an internet creator. My work, and my side projects, are all online. That’s not the case for everyone. I often find myself trapped between the need to interact and the desire to disengage. My writing is often interrupted by the urge to check my messages. People expect me to always be online when they need me, readily available to respond – at any time, no matter what. And when they don’t need me, it’s like I no longer exist.
This is one of those things I’m always nagging you not to worry about. Just write, and worry later. I do realize that you’re not always writing, and that sometimes you do worry about things like this. I’m guilty of the same thing. I do encourage you to give yourself a break from the constant need to keep updated. Log off. Do something else. There are many ingredients that make up a healthy writing life. Physical and mental health are important ones. Don’t neglect them. Take care of yourself – your offline self. The real you, the parts of you the public doesn’t need to see. Those are important to your success as a writer, too. Your whole life isn’t about what’s on that screen. I think we forget that sometimes.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.