How Social Media Has Affected My Writing

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A writer is someone who writes, not someone who thinks about writing. And all I ever seem to do these days is think about writing.

I have draft after draft of blog posts in my head, but none ever make it to this site. And while you might say that I could still be writing with pen and paper, that’s not really my style anymore. This is where I write, where I’ve preferred to write for the past (almost) 7 years.

Now I’m beginning to see how my preference for sharing online has potentially brought me to this writing block. How my growing preoccupation with entertainment, information, and perspective – the trifecta of riches I regularly find in social media – has ultimately become a trade-off for me. I fill my mind to the brim with other people’s thoughts, and am so numbed by the chatter that I cannot hear my own writer’s voice.

In addition to that numbness, I also find that social media offers an all-too-convenient exit hatch for the ideas that used to tease me at night and demand to be written out at great length. Instead, now I can plunk out my thoughts at a moment’s notice, and receive enough immediate feedback to bring my ideas from birth to resolution in a matter of moments. What used to be a glowing flame of thought becomes instead a flicker and a spark, extinguished before it can shed enough light to lead me to greater depths.

I’ve decided that in order to re-connect with my own desire to write, I need to go on a “communication diet,” of sorts. For starters, I will not begin my day at the computer. Too often, I am checking my email within 10 minutes of getting out of bed, which then leads to checking Facebook, news websites, and so on and so on. An hour or more goes by, and my head is already stuffed with chatter. My days will begin with movement and thought, before I sit down at the computer. And before I even open my email, I’ll consider if there is anything I would like to write, and if so, I will open one single, solitary tab as a funnel for those thoughts and words.

I also need to determine just how much is an appropriate amount of time for me to spend online without tipping the balance of mental inspiration/exhaustion. Doing so will also help me have something more to write about, since there’s no greater source material for writing than living (versus, you know, staring at a computer screen).

I’m curious to know:

If you consider yourself a writer, how has being involved in social media helped or hindered your writing? 

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  • Jennifer Hunt

    I’m with you on this one. When I experience writer’s block, I cease blog-reading, facebook-checking, twitter-following, and turn off notifications on my phone. When I write, it is a process of learning and re-learning who I am and what is important to me. Social media tends to tell me who I am and what is important to me without necessity of thought. When I feel mounting anxiety or depression, I know the story social media tells me isn’t my personal truth. It is time for me to switch everything off, get back in alignment with myself, and just write.

    Social media certainly inspires thoughts…I just have to shut it long enough to do something with those thoughts. A challenge indeed when there are so many thoughts I’m “missing out on.”

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Jennifer! I totally agree – I feel my story “written” for me when I’m too immersed online. I find myself getting really invested in ideas, worries, concerns, and then I have to catch myself and ask “Wait, does this really matter to me, or am I getting caught in the tide of other people’s thought?” I’m getting much more disciplined at unplugging, and that has made all the difference!

  • Gosh,I never thought about in this way, but yes. Being able to express ideas in a FB update or 140 characters on Twitter may end up making ideas really burn out before they ever have a chance to see the light of day. Really interesting food for thought today, as i’ve been struggling with my blog, too.

    • Thanks, Gigi! I’ve decided my best strategy right now is a “redistribution of thoughts,” so to speak. Things I would normally run to Facebook and post about quickly, I’m now trying to sit on and consider if it would make a good blog post. It’s a choppy process – I feel like I’m trying to “retrain” myself after getting so lazy with thoughts and writing – and I don’t think these first several blog posts are going to be phenomenal, but I’m just trying to get back in the flow. I hope you find a flow that works for you, too!!

  • Yes, yep, indeed. Part of my problem is that my engineering job really can only be done in front of the computer, and actually with gaps of time to read FB or something while the computer is working engineering magic. So I get the chatter/mental overload very quickly each workday. This is why I’ve found writing to be much easier for me first thing in the morning, when my mind is clearer. I’ve also tried to keep off social media more on weekends, though that’s hard. Lately I’ve been realizing that even though I said something on Facebook, not all my blog readers heard it so it’s worth expanding on and turning into a full blog post. I also have a REALLY hard time when I really write and nobody responds. Trying to get over that too, since it only helps to stifle my writing voice.

  • Jennifer Sikora

    I can so relate to this! I honestly wish I could just leave the social media part of everything alone. I find myself comparing myself to others which stifles what I really want to write about. Thanks for sharing your heart 🙂