The Juggling Writer’s Social Media Blackout

Inspired by my 100 Day social media black-out experiment, author Christopher Joglund took the plunge and lived to tell the tale in two articles. The first is his initial wrap-up titled: 101 Days Without Social Media. The second is: After the Social Media Break.

There are a few things that really stood out to me in these posts. I thought this was a very powerful statement when Christopher says: “I like aspects of social media, but inside a couple months, I realized I could never see it again and be absolutely fine with that.”

Imagine. Maybe these tools aren’t that crucial to our lives. Maybe we (and others) are assigning value to them and, as a result, putting more time and energy into them because we think they’re that important. Christopher brings up the need to post updates and status for SEO (search engine rankings) purposes. Being in that world, I can definitely say that there’s a fair amount of pressure to do this. In my experiences, constantly posting social media updates to rank for specific keywords is pretty meaningless if there’s hardly any demand for that term and you don’t have a) a reason why you want to rank and b) quality blog content to begin with. (I could go on and on about ranking simply for the sake of ranking, but I’ll spare you that rant.)

What Christopher also shares is that social media was so ingrained into his daily routine, getting off of it allowed him to re-focus. Social media is a lot like gambling. You have to play to get “paid” or “rewarded” in replies, shares, retweets, opportunities and even money. For me, it’s that community feel that comes from my ability to connect with other people over larger and longer distances. In my corner of the universe, since I’m a part of the hobby games industry, that’s something I can’t do offline unless I go to a convention. For Chris, though, he wasn’t sure what, if anything, social media will do for his writing.

I also found this statement to be honest and compelling: “I can’t produce the quality of writing that I’m producing, lately, without the focus that comes from truly disconnecting from it all. Maybe you can, and I think that’s cool.”

For my own work, I’ve discovered that social media and the act of writing don’t mix well at all. It’s either rile up the crowd or create something for the crowd to be excited about. Two different mindsets (and separate jobs). Usually, when you see me online it’s because a) I have two monitors or b) I’m on a scheduled break or c) I’m using social media for a specific reason. Sure, sometimes I get carried away with the silly and stupid conversations, but that’s few and far between these days. Honestly, it often depends what’s more important to you. Is it crucial for you to be constantly talked about? Are you generating enough revenue to justify the time you spend on social media (and not writing or producing content)?

In his second article, Christopher also writes about the return of his ability to focus and the lack of noise. Loved reading that experience because I feel (and still do) exactly the same way. Taking a break from social media was the best thing I’ve done for my writing (and my sanity) all year.

I encourage you to give Christopher’s articles a read. Maybe a social media break isn’t right for you, but I’d love to see and hear from more authors who will take the plunge.

One Response to The Juggling Writer’s Social Media Blackout
  1. Christopher Gronlund

    Thanks for mentioning the entries, Monica! And thank you for inspiring me to take the break. Like you, I got more writing done and thought more about my blog vs. social media. (I also loved your article about redoing your blog to focus more on your professional writing, btw.)

    One of the stranger things I experienced during the break that I didn’t really write about was encountering people who felt a bit slighted by my break, or who felt like they were being judged when I wrote about it. This is just what worked for me — although I think writers who say they can produce their best work while taking frequent breaks and jumping on Twitter are lying to themselves.

    I really thought about extending the break until finishing the first draft of the novel I started earlier than planned while on the break (or after the 2012 elections to avoid all the politics), but I think I’ve found my happy medium with social media.

    And if it ever becomes overwhelming again — thanks to you — I know all I have to do is turn it off for awhile!

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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