How To Quit Facebook (As A Writer)

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I get a lot of questions from fellow writers, and some readers, about Facebook. Mostly around my complete lack of having a Facebook account. Some are shocked to learn I got rid of it over 6 years ago (before the scandals) and my reason wasn’t personal privacy, but rather a loaf of bread. Yup. You read that right. Bread.

I’ve decided to be all artsy-fartsy about it and detail here the steps I took, why I took them, and what happened. All in short story format.

Notes:

  • The focus is on writers, but this guide could be for anyone looking to regain control of their time
  • If I sound preachy, I’m really not trying to be. If Facebook works for you and makes you successful, I’m glad it’s a useful tool for you
  • I’m so totally 100% aware you’re looking at that Instagram feed over there on the right side of this page (Facebook owns them) and going “OH THE IRONY!” The thing is, I play with Instagram once every couple of weeks, and I strictly curate it to focus on my love of art, books, and gory b-grade horror movies
  • I quit Facebook years ago, but I tried to make the story relevant to someone using it in 2018
  • This post is going to be long, and I’m writing it in the 2nd person, just to be asinine on a Monday.

 

Chapter 1 : Choosing to Quit Facebook (A Crack in The Mirror)

You decided to quit Facebook. Because you wanted more time to write. Maybe you sat down to write the next chapter in your novel, and ended up wasting forty five of the precious ninety minutes you had, looking at endless streams of encouraging GIF’s stating “Writer’s write!” Maybe you were in your local grocery store and saw a Facebook logo on a loaf of bread, and you said–

“Why has everyone accepted the dominance of this corporate force into their lives, to the point where food packaging is branded with a tiny F? Why do food companies want me to “connect” with them? Shouldn’t I spend my limited time on this mortal coil exercising my freedom of creative human expression, instead of connecting with Pop-Tarts on social media?”

Then you shouted, “I reject this, Mark. I reject all of this! I want more time to write!” And freaked out the elderly woman standing next to you in aisle nine.

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Social Media Kills Creativity

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Here’s a controversial topic for your Monday.

I contend that social media hurts creativity. Change my mind.

Yes, I understand the irony of writing a blog post about this topic, if you consider WordPress a social media platform.

I thought about this while browsing my Instagram feed over the weekend, scrolling through endless photos of vintage book covers and pictures of author’s laptops exposing their word-count related victories. I feel like the modern writer (hobbyist or professional) needs to be more wary of the negative impacts of social media.

One of the earliest (and best) pieces of writing advice I ever got was “don’t talk about your work until it is finished”. Meaning, complete drafts and only show them to a select few trusted peers like an editor or critique group until they are ready for a wider audience. Social media and the incessant chirping from marketers about “building a platform” run totally counter to this.

Social media is all about instant gratification, and a feedback loop of exposure for quick responses. Alex Posen wrote a great piece about this on The Creative Hours, and I am buying what he is selling. Ideas need time to gestate and change without outside interference. I see so many “aspiring authors” posting raw first drafts on social media and I just want to scream “STOP!”. It may feel nice to show people your accomplishments, but it’s a trap. As soon as you invite a wider audience into that process, it becomes compromised. I don’t feel like that intrusion is worth a few “Likes” or the occasional comment.

My other, more curmudgeon-y, reason is simply a matter of the strange, nearly universal narcissism that social media has spawned among creative-types. Yeah, the irony alarm is about to sound again, but I had to say it. Most people (myself included) are just out here having fun tossing our thoughts and words into digital space. Very few authors are gaining a regular new readership and selling large numbers of books via social media. The ones who do have usually found success via other channels already. For every one success story there are millions of people posting about how they just can’t find the time to finish (or start) that 1st draft.

This isn’t to say social media is all bad. I love spending a few minutes each week interacting with this community, or looking at old horror movie VHS artwork on Instagram. The takeaway is you need to be vigilant and selfish with your creative hours, and realize these platforms are time-sinks BY DESIGN. Don’t let them compromise your creative process. As J.T. Ellison puts it, “don’t let social media kill your creative spirit”.

What is your take on social media? Do you feel like it stifles your creativity, or is it something you couldn’t possibly live without? Let me know down in the comments.

Writing Tip: 5 Ways to Find More Time

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If you’re like me, you struggle to find the time to write. Between work, school, and family obligations, maybe you spend more time thinking about writing than actually putting words down on the page. If you are passionate about writing, this can be extremely difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to squeak out some extra writing time even in the busiest schedule.

Write in Small Chunks

A novel, or even a short story, can seem like a daunting task. The mantra “write every day” is slapped up all over the internet, but I don’t personally feel that’s always feasible. What I DO subscribe to is writing regularly, and if I’m pressed for time, writing in small chunks. Even if you only put down 50-100 words, that’s more than you had before, and all that work will help you eventually reach your goal.

Add Hours to Your Day

I’m a big proponent of simplifying. We’re constantly bombarded by advertising that tells us “we’re too busy”, but the reality is that most of us waste a HUGE amount of time on our phones, social media, and just not focusing on achieving our goals. Try this: Start monitoring how much time you spend on social media for the next 5 days. Write it down and next weekend tally that up. Then, think about how many words you could have written during that time. ┬áIf it’s quite a bit, you should consider prioritizing your time writing instead of browsing Facebook posts.

Write on Your Commute or Lunch Break

If it’s possible, try to get in some writing on your lunch break or your commute (if you use public transportation). It’s some great downtime that you can use to put words on the page or screen.

Carry a Notebook

Ideas don’t show up when it’s convenient. That means you need to be ready whenever inspiration strikes. It’s why I carry a notebook with me, so I can capture ideas as they happen. Whether I’ve just woken up from an especially intense dream, or I get a great idea for a short story while I’m out getting a coffee. It gives you the freedom to write whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Give Up Another Hobby

This is a tough one, but it’s something I had to do personally. I spent many hours practicing instruments in the hopes of one day of forming or joining a band. While I had been in quite a few bands years ago, it no longer meshes with my life for a number of reasons (schedule, having to rely on other people, etc). I realized that while I enjoyed it, it was a creative “dead end” that was taking up precious free time I could have been using to write, which is my primary creative outlet. Therefore, I sold some guitars, and have started a personal fund to buy a new writing desk. When your schedule is extremely packed, sometimes you need to sacrifice lesser hobbies for the good of focusing on the one you’re truly passionate about.