Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Disconnect - A Month Without Social Media

Social media icons on phone
I have friends who can write an entire novel in one month. They are goddesses and I am jealous. My average is a bit longer.

In publishing there's this running joke that the second book is the hardest and I was not prepared for how true that was. There have been times, many of them, where I questioned if I even know how to write anymore. What are words? What are these letter things and exactly how many writing craft books can I read before someone stages an intervention?

In the months prior to finishing the latest draft of my second book, I decided radical action was needed. I must do the dreaded. The unthinkable. That's right, I deleted social media. All of it. I removed the apps from my phone, closed the tabs on my computer and strictly forbid myself from looking at ANYTHING even remotely involved with social media until my draft was done. 

I lasted a month.

No the book was not done in that time, but it was darn close. Writing is lonely and while most of my writer friends live hundreds (if not thousands) of miles away, there's something comforting about checking in with them and feeling like I'm part of the larger writing community. Or maybe that's just my inner procrastinator talking.

Either way, it was a productive (if lonely) month. Things I learned: it's amazing how much more writing you can get done when your phone isn't dinging every few seconds with alerts from social media. Another big take-away: as much as I love #bookstagram, man does it take a ton of time! There's setting up book shots, post-processing, preparing posts, and making sure to comment and like other accounts so you're not just a vain-glorious blowhard boasting about your pretty pictures and not encouraging others as well. When adding up all the time I spend on social media in an average week, Instagram is easily the biggest time suck. It's also my favorite, however. Twitter makes me feel like the world is on fire (which it is, to be fair), Facebook makes me feel like everyone else is succeeding at life WAY more than I am (also likely true), but Instagram makes me feel like the world is filled with other people who love books and pretty pictures. That last reality is the one that most often helps keep me sane.

In that month offline, I felt liked I'd been dropped into a canyon. It's a little scary how quickly we've gotten used to being connected constantly to those around us and how dependent we've become on our phones. Our whole lives are on those little devices. I'm not saying I enjoyed my month off social media, because I did not. At all. But being offline reaffirmed how much I care about my friends and want to connect with them. In-person whenever possible, but online when not.

I'm super excited that in the next several weeks I'll get to see a bunch of my writer friends in-person at Writers In The Field (a hands-on research extravaganza) and then at Bouchercon in late October (all the murder mysteries you can handle with twice the mayhem and stabbiness).


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