Monday, June 15, 2015

Social Media: Rabbit Hole Or Regroup Help?

I participate in social media in pretty much all the ways, and most of the time when I'm on one or the other I see writers talking about how they're supposed to be doing something else... probably writing. There are plenty of methods for blocking yourself from using Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest (you name it) but the easiest one is plain old self-control.

But lately I've come to question whether it's actually necessary.

I love social media and use it to my advantage - and I don't just mean directing readers to my books. I have a certain word count I want to hit every day when I'm drafting, and it's rare that I actually hit it in one bang-out session. Typically about halfway through there's a moment where I simply don't feel like writing anymore. Sometimes I even know what's going to happen next, but it doesn't matter. The candle has been lit, yes, but it burned down to the end of the wick and all I've got left is the little nub of blue flame that's about to be drowned in wax.

In other words, I'm just not on fire at that point.

Like all writers, there are times when I have to force myself to write. I actually make the announcement to the boyfriend, climb the stairs like Anne Boelyn at the Tower and treat opening my laptop like a reverse guillotine. It can be that hard.

Once I'm there, in front of the computer with the WIP up on a Word doc, I know I can't walk away. I won't have the fortitude to go through the process of putting myself in front of it again. But I also don't want to make words when all I'm running on is that little tiny blue flame.

So, I open up a browser screen, and I see what everybody else is up to. Sometimes I just hit up Goodreads for a little bit and look at books I want to read. Sometimes I scroll through Tumblr, check Facebook for any notifications, hop on Twitter to commiserate with other writers.

And you know what? The laptop is already open. The Word doc is hovering behind the browser, letting me know that the word count for today isn't hit yet. My flame rekindles as I give myself a little time away from the WIP, and when I return the next bit of dialogue is more natural than it would've been otherwise, the next step in the plot more evident than it would've been if I slapped something together for the sake of forward movement.

I didn't leave my computer. I don't have to force myself to sit back down in front of it. It wasn't a rabbit hole of distraction, but a much needed regroup - one I take everyday.

So don't treat social media like the anathema to your creativity. It might be the gasp of oxygen that you need.

7 comments:

Hayley N. Jones said...

I think going on Twitter helps my writing simply because the tweets by writers remind me that a) I'm not alone in my writerly struggles and b) success is possible. It's such a small thing, but it helps me work through all the problems and insecurities.

Parmita said...

*Nods* This post came up exactly when I needed it the most. So many writing coaches advise to limit social media usage but I never felt it to be harmful in any way. On the contrary, it makes me feel connected with the people and the world I appreciate. I'll take up your word for it and throw the rest away.

AS Olivier said...

I agree with Hayley - even if you don't know the writers who you're stalking, it can still be really inspiring and encouraging following them and their writing journeys.

Mindy McGinnis said...

I'm glad other people are with me on this! I know it goes against the conventional wisdom, but it's what works for me!

Kel said...

Taking a little break to refresh the mind is definitely a good thing...as long as you don't get completely sucked into the social media, look up 5 hours later and wonder where the time went. Not that that's ever happened to me. ;)

Erica Eliza said...

I'll never understand why people pay money for social media blockers. Self control is a leeeeetle cheaper. But apparently harder. For three years my writing laptop had no internet capabilities whatsoever (I'm a teenager. Parents are a thing.) but I always kept my iPod or phone handy for background music, writing research, and yep, goodreads. If you're bored, you'll always find some excuse to avoid your WIP, and self control is the only key.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Self-control, much like common sense, is both free and somehow scarce.

I had an interesting conversation today about dieting and exercise. Basically, they're both forms and self control - exercise is the self-control of making yourself do something, while dieting is the control of NOT doing something.