Social networking sites can be dangerous for the creative writer. Facebook and Twitter enable friends and strangers to distract us scribes, but only if we allow them too.
Procrastination is my worst enemy, which is why I developed a neat routine to do my writerly thang. Before type prose or poetry I like to prepare a mug of green tea, sync my MP3 player with my PC and listen to the eclectic mix of tunes blaring from my speakers (generally in the evening I’ll plug headphones in).
The music becomes my background noise whereas the green tea is an excellent gauge for how I’m going. If I finish the tea then chances are I’m not focused on my writing enough. If, however, my tea cools and the mug is half empty (or half full) then that’s a positive sign of progress, unless I’ve been staring at a blank document all that time. Refilling that mug encourages me to stand and stretch my back and extremities.
So where does the social networking shenanigans come in? Well, when writers lose their concentration, or they reach that where-the-hell-is-this-story-headed point, they sometimes take a break. This break could be a matter of going to the toilet, raiding the pantry, dipping into some emails, playing a computer game or logging onto Facebook.
And there’s no problem with occasionally doing all of those previously mentioned activities; it does become an issue, though, when you are telling yourself, and others, that you are a writer and yet you consistently fail to reach your own goals.
The temptation to play Zynga Poker, to converse with others via live chat while posting comments on your friends’ walls can lead to you neglecting your writing.
Imagine your story is a baby.
How can you nurture a child when you’re too busy tending virtual crops?
Here’s another aspect to consider: treat your writing like it’s an occupation. There are outsiders who do not appreciate the effort and seriousness of writing. These outsiders could be family, friends, colleagues—anyone—and they probably perceive your literary pursuits as a juvenile hobby. Prove them wrong.
An easy solution in this instance is to isolate the writer from the internet. Sometimes the writer needs that forced isolation in order to do their thing but that just demonstrates how undisciplined the writer is. Besides, access to the internet is vital depending on the nature of the writing. It is for that reason that discipline is paramount.
I use Facebook to communicate with friends and family but it does have additional benefits for the writer too: support, motivation, reassurance and honesty among like-minded groups are essential for creative improvement. That isn’t to say that you can only achieve this online, but for some people chatting online is more convenient than meeting face-to-face.
The term ‘social networking’ fits appropriately here. Just yesterday (wow, it’s 1AM …) I confirmed professional placement at a copywriting business via Facebook. See! Facebook isn’t all about gaming and talking nonsense.
Therefore it’s important for the serious writer to recognise how the internet, and its applications, can affect one’s writing habits and ambitions.