On Stepping Away

I’ve been an active Twitter user for about three years now, mostly involved in the writing community, though I do interact with some non-writers as well. I joined it for networking—for getting my name out there so that when I eventually do have a published book, people will know who I am and will be more likely to want to read it.

In joining that community, I’ve gained so much more than that. I’ve gained friendships—have even met several friends in person. One of them is local, and we meet up all the time, and are pretty much besties now. I’ve also learned so much about the craft and art of writing that would have taken me much longer to figure out (if at all) had I kept myself isolated from social media. Twitter has been a boon to my writing, is what I’m saying. I was even chosen as a mentee during last year’s Pitch Wars contest, which I never would have even known about, much less have been ready to enter, had I not been on Twitter. I wouldn’t be writing for this blog either. I was invited to join as a regular contributor by one of my CPs, Helen Boswell, who I also met via Twitter.

Unfortunately, social media has also had its negative effects. I’ve developed a habit of popping on whenever I get stuck for words, and will often stay on longer than intended, scrolling and replying—wasting precious writing time. I’ve also noticed a changing atmosphere lately, with a lot of negativity and anger and shouting about things, and less writerly support and general camaraderie. So many rules, so many “do this, don’t do that’s.” So much urgency to prove oneself as a writer, to have an agent, to be published, to have something to show for all the work you do. And that’s good! And also bad. Bad for creativity, that is. At least for me.

So a couple weeks ago, I did something drastic. I deactivated my account. It’s only temporary—I would like to have that account later when I do have something published and want to let people know about it. But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the attitude I used to have for writing compared to the attitude I have now. It’s hard to explain, but I guess before, it was more about the magic and wonder of it, with less oh-my-goodness-I-need-to-hurry-and-produce-something-STAT, plus hyperventilating and an urgent need to puke. Basically, I needed to step away. Away, not just from social media, but from the community as a whole. (Again, only temporarily.)

And it was really, really hard.

But this is what happened: I started knitting again. I started reading again. I started cooking again, for fun, not just necessity. And best of all, I started writing again—not every day, but when I felt like it. When I feel like it. And that’s when my best writing occurs. I’m enjoying it again, wholeheartedly, with less stress, less need to hurry up and get something out there, less self-judgment, and much less fear. I do miss everyone, and as I said, I will come back, but I’m going to remember this experience and employ this method again whenever I start to slip back into that funnel of anxiety that I’ve slowly squeezed myself into over the last few years. I don’t even know if that metaphor makes sense, but I like how it sounds and I’m keeping it. See? Less self-judgment.

So if you can relate to what I’m saying, might I suggest you do the same? Just be sure and reactivate your account before 30 days are up or your Twitter life will be deleted completely. You might find a new way of thinking about things, and you might like it. A lot. You might love it. You might, may I be so bold, even wonder if you want to go back at all. (Do go back—just don’t log in as much maybe, but seriously go back, we’ll miss you). As for me, I will see you again on Twitter, bright and early, on October 1st. Probably. (Yes).

______________________________________________

When she’s not writing, revising, or banging her head on the keyboard (it’s all the same, right?), Megan Paasch can be found playing her ukulele (badly), knitting (rarely anymore, unfortunately), or herding two amazing, but rowdy little boys (pretty much constantly) with her husband. A native to the Pacific Northwest, Megan earned her B.A. in History from the University of Washington. (Go Huskies!) Her favorite history subjects were, and still are, Women in History, the Tudors, and the Celts. You can read more about her here. 

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