19 April 2012

Why I Haven’t Blogged in Over Two Months


            First, my heartfelt thanks to all of you who responded to my last post, “Being Cheryl Strayed.” You energized me. You made me believe in myself again and my writing. When I read your comments, I wanted to reach out and hug you all and let you know how much I believe in you.
I hope you’re all still digging deep for that authentic self, the one you always carry, the one that sometimes gets layered over with other people’s expectations, perceptions, and needs. The one that gets lost in our modern world, the world that keeps us so distracted we forget who we are and what makes us powerful creative beings. A toast to all of us.

            Now to tell you what happened after I wrote my last post. And it wasn’t what I expected, not by a long shot.
I truly expected to have a mega burst of creative energy. I was raw, open, and a little scared, but raring to go, especially to finish my novel.
            Instead, I found myself drop kicked to the ground. I just couldn’t get up. I couldn’t find the energy to write, to keep up with my responsibilities, to even be excited about the novel. What was wrong? What was happening? When I finally dragged myself to my feet and examined myself, I had a whole new problem to figure out and another layer to dig through.

            It was morning, a few weeks after the last blog post when I dragged myself out of bed and realized I was anxious and depressed. I’m not one to be depressed. It’s just not me. I took my usual half hour to wake up, my usual easing into the day. Dan was downstairs, drinking his coffee and reading the paper. He knows not to talk to me first thing and woe is he who asks, “What should we have for dinner tonight?”
            I stumbled around, heated water for tea, and tried to remember what my last thoughts were before I fell asleep and what I’d dreamed about. I often use sleep and dreams to solve problems. When I’m fully in tune with myself (happy, excited, adventurous, expectant), I go to bed with a story problem and sometimes wake up with a solution. My dreams are vivid, Technicolor, intense, full story dreams with a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes they are simply stories. Sometimes they are a collage of recent personal events and fears, or my fears for the world. Before 911, I had, like many people did, dreams of being in a tall building that was crumbling around me.
            But that morning I couldn’t remember anything about my dreams or what I’d wanted to process before I fell asleep.
While my tea brewed, I wiped down the sink, put dishes away from the night before, and read part of the paper standing up at the counter. I grabbed pencil and paper and wrote down a few groceries we needed. My fuzzy morning brain was waking up, but I wasn’t happy. I plunked down on the kitchen stool. When was the last time I was happy in the morning? When had I last woke up feeling excited, adventurous, expectant? I couldn’t remember.

Okay, the best way to push through all this was to prepare for the day. I flipped to a new sheet of paper and decided to write down what I would do that day. I started a list:
Write a blog post.

Then it came back to me, what I’d gone to bed mulling over and worrying about—I could not come up with a subject to blog about.
I’d never had a problem writing this blog. Never. I did think about what my readers would find interesting, but for the most part, my topics came from what I found interesting. Readers would find it worth reading or not. Sure, I worried about execution, the old “Can I pull this off? Or will I sound like an idiot?” I didn’t worry too much about the last part. I’ve sounded like an idiot before and it didn’t kill me.
Okay. So the problem was a topic for the blog. Easy then. Quit trying so hard. I could do a follow up to the reader comments from the last entry. I’d take the “Being Cheryl Strayed” to another level. I wrote that down on my list. I could write about my decision to drop the pirate persona, how I now found it tedious, and I’d explain why.
Nah, that wasn’t even interesting.
I took a deep breath. My mind was all over the place with ideas but I just couldn’t get excited about any of them. Okay, don’t panic. I’d set that aside for the moment. I would make a list of everything I needed to do and start working on that. Crossing things off a list was always therapeutic. I wrote:

Check your Facebook page because you’ve let that go.
You forgot to check ValinParis account for comments.
Post the Cheryl Strayed piece to Women Writing the West Yahoo users group.
Set up Hootsuite; need to follow hashtag groups.
Goodreads—woefully out of date!
Go through all your email; needs attention!
Respond to SheWrites messages and post to groups.
Write the column for Books By the Bed.

I set the pencil down. I felt a little sick. I stared at the list.

Internet.
Internet.
Internet.
Internet.
Internet.
Internet.
Internet.
Internet.

I took my now cold tea to my writing room and stood there, looking at my library of novels and reference books, the stacks of literary magazines and the binders full of research. A partial manuscript was tucked in my laptop bag with all my revision notes.
Reading area in my writing room

What used to make me happy, excited, adventurous, expectant was writing. Writing fiction. Why wasn’t I devoting every waking—and sleeping—moment to finishing my novel? That’s what I used to fall asleep with—characters, story, plot problems, structure possibilities. I know I can’t do that all the time, but I remember when I’d wake up in that fuzzy first hour, noodling ideas and excited about perhaps a scene I needed to finish.

Internet.
Internet.
Internet.
Internet.
Internet.
Internet.
Internet.
Internet.

That’s why I couldn’t move, couldn’t be excited, was depressed. I’d been letting all this online networking and social media—creating a web presence, as they call it—take over. What was the use of having all this “presence” if I didn’t have a finished novel? What good did it do anyway? Who were these people who said you had to have a web presence if you wanted to be an author? Who were these gurus who insisted that this new world of publishing demanded an author FB/Tweet/blog/Google+/Klout/Pinterest, etc.?

I drank my cold tea and pushed away that old Puritan who said, “How dare you question authority.” What authority, I asked? I used to work in advertising and marketing. I understood the old caveat emptor warning. So I asked myself, Who is selling us on the idea of all this social media and internet marketing?
I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to recognize a need and create a service to fill that need. They have to make a living and they do give away lots of good info before asking you to buy something. I subscribe to three of these social media gurus e-newsletters, so I asked myself, What roped me in?
 Use of their urgent language? Use of their authoritative tone? The fear of not doing it?
“If you don’t do this, you won’t succeed.”
Well, maybe. But does anyone have the numbers to prove this? Sure, I want to be successful. I want to be ready for the moment when my book is published. But what price am I paying?

            If I’m sacrificing my happiness, my creativity, the immersion time I need to write, if I don’t have time anymore to read other novels, why bother? I’d even dragged these demands to Colonyhouse retreats because when you’re on that many sites, you have to keep up on a daily basis. You have to get online and be “present.”

            No, I said to myself that morning. Not if it means you can’t be fully present in your writing. In that wonderful creative half-awake state that morning, not once had I thought about my novel.
            Not once.
I had to do something drastic.

So I did. I dropped all my social media activities and went on a blog hiatus. Just like that.
Once again, I was back in the land of the writer. I went to bed with my novel, woke up with it, noodled it in the car, devoted myself to it for a month, and fell in love again. The novel grew stronger and deeper with this immersion; the writing was some of my best.
I finished April 1, the deadline I’d first set for myself, and that’s not an April Fool’s joke. The novel is now out with five readers and I’m happier than I’ve been in … damn, I can’t remember when. Probably sometime before I dove into the social media. Even Dan has commented on how much happier I seem.

            I've heard the argument for balancing both, limiting my time online, giving myself one hour in the evening, etc. etc. But let’s be honest. How many of you have been online for an hour? It’s more along the lines of look at the clock and gasp because three hours have gone by. And never mind trying to return to your writing, fully present in that. No, you’re concentration, that precious immersion in story, has been infected. With internet.

            As many of you know, the gift of being a writer is the joy of noodling an idea, slurping it around the mouth, playing with the creative food. It’s about immersion. When I’m writing, even the bad days are good. Even when I’m writing drivel, the days are better than anything else.
            I did have pangs of guilt for not being on all those internet sites I’d joined. But it didn’t depress me or make me anxious. After the novel was done, I decided to clear up my writing room, weed out saved articles and old magazines. Spring was in the air and I like order. As I went through articles I had saved, I came across one that took away any residual guilt about my dropping out from the internet.
The article, “Inner Space: Clearing Some Room for Inspiration,” by Frank Bures examines the same problem I’d been dealing with and that many creative people face. When I was online every day to do my social media, I had what Bures admitted he developed, what researcher Linda Stone calls “continuous partial attention.”
Continuous partial attention.
Lake Winnisquam
Ping! I couldn’t stay in the story or daydream or be in the warm fuzzy creative space upon waking. My focus was chopped up into too many small bites. I yearned for my childhood days when I would spend hours sitting under a tree beside Lake Winnisquam, making up stories that I’d spin into words later on paper.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m organized. I have systems. I keep great files. I’m pretty good at time management.
This, however, is something entirely different. Overuse of the internet slices and dices your brain. It damages your focus, your creative headspace.
So here we are in this modern tech age when we are expected to be online every day to create a presence and it’s rupturing the connection to our creativity? And what of our writerly isolation and prolonged sitting? (Lots of new info on how dangerous that is.) I know I have even more reason to limit that “online presence.”
I do love my online communities, the amazing, helpful, wonderful people, the great resources. But I will from now on be absent when writing and promise to give you a heads up.

And yes, I finished my novel. Relief! Happiness! Fulfillment!
For fun—after the novel was done—I ran the first page of it through the website “I Write Like …” and came up with David Foster Wallace. Yes, go ahead and play with the site. Drop a chunk of your writing into the box and see who pops up. I wanted my writing to be like Margaret Atwood’s, but David’s would definitely do.

I’m celebrating, both the finish of my novel and my new freedom. You’ve been with me for almost a year and a half, given me support and courage, and for that I’m giving away a copy of Cheryl’s memoir Wild. If you leave a comment, your name goes into the hat. Either use the comment box or send to the ValinParis email.

Also, I would love to have your reactions to my story. Do you have similar stories and concerns? What are they? Have you experienced a negative effect on your writing from being on the internet? Or not? I’m really curious. I know we have to market our books once they’re published, but is all this social media necessary and does it work? What do you refuse to do? What do you think is really necessary? How do you make those decisions?

Thanks again for being there, for reading this. Please join the conversation. In the meantime, ask yourself this: what is running around inside your head when you wake up? Does it make you happy or anxious? Why?

And for your information, I won’t be blogging weekly. I’ll blog when I’m inspired and want to reach out to you.
Until then, hugs all ‘round.
Val

p.s. If anyone heard the NPR Morning Edition story about this same subject/issue, please let me know when you heard it and if there's a link to it. I didn't hear it, but was told about it. Thanks!

Also, if you're interested, check out the books I'm reading, Books Beside the Bed, at We Wanted to Be Writers.


36 comments:

chakra girl said... [Reply to comment]

I don't feel so alone anymore! :) Blogger, Twitter, fb, pinterest...fell away from desire to contribute to all for awhile...but still checked everyday - for something. No writing, no painting, but a lot of sitting. It even affected journaling, which has been my gateway to self-care, clarity and contentment for 8 years. Glad to see u back!

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks, chakra girl! So nice to be back and hear from you. Yes, I think we'll be seeing more blogs, articles and essays about this issue.

Also, for some reason your other comment wouldn't publish, so I'm copying it here from the email:

From chakra girl:
Grateful for your raw. and for keeping this post up. Some bloggers-in-the-raw (yes, I'm guilty of this) turn 'round and delete their gift b4 it can be far-reaching and empower those who cannot visit right away.

Ah, too true.
hugs,
Val

martha miller said... [Reply to comment]

What a breath of fresh air from you this morning, Val! I've been having the same problem -- only didn't know it. I spend hours at the computer each morning, keeping up with email, news stories, Facebook . . . and when someone asks, 'been writing?' I have to say, uh, no, well sorta.
Finally I can just write my novel and not feel guilty about all that other stuff I should be doing -- the website postings, Facebook, etc etc. Internet internet internet internet.
Thanks for setting me FREE!!

Tonya Rice said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Val! So glad you're back.

I've missed your posts and I so understand your hiatus. As usual, I've flagged your post in my inbox and this one spoke volumes to me! I've strayed from my blog a bit lately too. I have ideas continually popping up and I jot them down, but I find that I want to just use my writing time to finish the rewrite of my novel. I'm about halfway through now. Thanks for sharing and letting us know it's okay to take a break from virtual life from time-to-time to give focus on that piece that's been calling us to write in the first place!

Also, I must thank you for the new online detour you shared! LOL! Boy, is that I Write Like site fun! One of my passages indicated that I write like Jane Austen; another was compared to Margaret Mitchell. I'm happy! :)

writeonwithsheila said... [Reply to comment]

I can't believe this Val - it's like you're telling my story! It's been exactly the way you described it for me - bogged down in a whirl of FB/Triond/Wikinut/RedGage etc etc. "I'll do half an hour each on a couple of them a day," I say confidently to myself. And then - yes, Val, you're right, 3 hours, maybe even four, have just been devoured by that mean old internet who is just jerking my tail!
After reading this brilliantly meandering blog, I've made a list to complete an interview, finish my final two creative writing course assignments, do my filing, edit the two short stories that are nearly ready to pack up and send off - and take part in my favourite quarterly 24hr writing contest that gives me such a buzz (!!) - and then I'm all set to devote the whole of June to getting my novel completed with a deadline date on my list for 1st July.
Oh, you clever Val you...you've sorted my head out for me. Thank you so much.
And after that...heed you, or heed you not, me hearty, I'll be editing that short story anthology I've been meaning to put together for what seems like an AGE. I've got September earmarked for that.
And like you, dear Val, I'll blog and/or network when I fancy a little walk on the wildside - just for fun. And then - oh my, it'll be Christmas and I'll need to make my writing resolutions for 2013!!
Wish me luck - and I'll see you on the Christmas Tree, you angel you!

Lori Orser said... [Reply to comment]

Val, this came at the exact moment I needed it most -- you're an angel! I'm where you were -- I had joined LinkedIn, decided a good use would be to join some writers groups -- and between that and FaceBook (which "they" say you must join to "promote" your work and all I get is friend requests from the people who wouldn't talk to me in high school) and then came boatloads of emailed comments from the LinkedIn threads I'd commented on -- and what was happening to my novel-in-revision? I tried to think about it, stuck in Chapter 12, and nothing was happening. I've been miserable. On the 'net constantly, but accomplishing nothing. I even play stupid games instead of writing! ANd my office is in chaos, and that doesn't help either. You just gave me the "kick in the seat of the pants" I needed right now. Email -- delete (when I have 500 unanswered, un-looked at emails, I freak out -- but that doesn't mean I have to read them all! Games, gone. LinkedIn, you can wait. Just did two blogs posts and one on my dog's blog (is that silly? She's my only steady companion, and she has a lot to say!) But now -- Writing. My deadline is May 31st, and if I don't write, I won't get there (now if I just had a maid to help clean up this space....)
Thank you!
Lori Orser

Randy Sue Coburn said... [Reply to comment]

Could not relate to this more completely, even though I have never blogged and the idea of doing so makes me want to crawl under the bed and eat doughnuts. And this despite how much I enjoy other writers' blogs (yours is one of the few I seek out) when they're brought to my attention. Yes, question that authority, try not to act out of fear (it's amazing just how much human behavior is motivated by fear), remember that there's a limit to how much we can control (no matter how often "experts" who profit from addressing writerly dilemmas give us similar formulas for success), and don't over-strategize when it gets in the way of the work. That's my take-away from this, and I'm glad you wrote it!

Patricia said... [Reply to comment]

I wondered where you were, Val, and am glad to see your story has a happy outcome. You articulated a number of issues familiar to all writers. You took some drastic action and discovered what works for you. Three cheers! Somehow I feel that posting when you feel inspired rather than because you have promised a certain schedule is more authentic approach. I'm definitely going to give that some thought!
It will be a please surprise to receive the e-mail inviting us here!

Karla said... [Reply to comment]

I love Linda Stone's description of that fragmented state of mind, “continuous partial attention.”

That is a horrible place for me to be, and I very rarely spend time in social networking. I was on Facebook for a short time, but I found myself getting anxious everytime someone would want to "friend" me or "confirm" me - I hate that feeling of obligation. And when a filthy pornographic E-mail was sent to all of my "friends", including my spiritual directee clients, I got off the whole business and felt ever so relieved.

But blogging is different. I just started a blog and I am very excited about it. It's called Reinventing Karla. I only post when I feel moved or inspired. I've been journaling for years and I have a lot of ideas and experiences that I want to share. I love the freedom - I love concretizing my thoughts and feelings through writing - I love sharing that writing, especially with people I care about. For me, blogging is completely different than the quips and cleverness of Facebook or Twitter. It allows for depth and learning and honing my craft. Anais Nin published her journals you know. Love, Karla

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

From BARBARA SULLIVAN via email:

I wonder if motive is something we can think about here, as it is with writing in general. If we're doing something--anything!--out of obligation, compulsion, fear, conformity, or any other negative motive, the whole enterprise can take on that flavor. If we're writing--say--memoir out of a motive to blame or get even, or fiction out of a motive to prove ourselves or show off, there's a worm in the apple, no matter how luscious our prose, and no matter how well-known we may become.

I think the Internet infection you describe so well can be parasitic in that same way--the "worm" you identify is taking direction from someone else about what we have to do in order to succeed.

Even in the black hole of the Internet, though, when a writer's motive is about being real, or honoring the subject, or celebrating something worthy, then the medium doesn't own us and the motive doesn't sap our strength. I applaud you for taking back control, both of your voice (I think dropping the pirate persona IS interesting) and your time (writing when you NEED to write, not when somebody else says you SHOULD write)!

LATER SHE ADDED (TO A RESPONSE BY ME):

And didn't we get day jobs so that we could at least write after hours? It's like globalization, somehow. Our real work has been shipped off to the business model, leaving us writing with a minimum-wage mentality.

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Martha,
I'm so happy that this has set you free. Stay tuned as I have more about this and want to make people understand that, yes, we have to promote our books, but not at the cost of our writing process. Instead of it being a concern about "time management" as so many social media promoters say, it's about "management style"--we are not producing widgets; we are creatives who need to not just prioritize our writing, we need to be conscious of what writing needs, as in feeding it correctly, caring for it and ourselves, and honoring the process, whatever that is. But you already get all that.
Thanks for commenting!

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Aw, thanks, Tonya. Thanks for saying you missed my posts. That means so much. You bet it's okay to take a break. I don't know about you, but I'm not an A-Type, more of the B-Type with A tendencies. :)
I know, kind of an irony that I gave you an online detour, but at least it had to do with writing. Wow, Jane Austen and Margaret Mitchell. What great company!
Love hearing from you.

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Oh, my gosh hearty Sheila! So good to hear from your side of the pond and from you! So funny to see Triond/Wikinut/RedGage. Not a clue as to what those are! (Thank God!)
And I was tired after reading your goals for the year. Whew. What a list! Plus you party? Hmm. I need to come visit. We'd have a blast. Then again, I'd throw you off your timeline!
So glad my meanderings made sense. Are we hungry or what for release? Yeah, baby. We need to stick to what counts and when the books come out, go full bore into the internet night.
Until then, me pal, stay true!

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Lori! Just the person I have to apologize to. If you're wondering why I didn't write that endorsement for you on LinkedIn, now you know! I will do it, but honestly? I was on groups on LinkedIn, and twice, some guy came on to respond to something I posted and was so unprofessionally aggressive and nasty, I dropped the group. What is the matter with people out there?
But back to the issue at hand. As far as all the stuff we try to do online, I have a game plan for us and will throw that out there in a later post, once I'm back in the groove.
The first thing I did when I made up mind not to do social media until I had my novel finished was clean up my office. I cleared all the "should do's" and "must reads" and took a delicious breath of clean air. I bought flowers, set my work space up for the novel with all my notes and little totems, and off I went. Lovely to see it works so well and feel so damned good. I'm back to reading poetry to feed my language and tinkering with my query letter, loving that even. And as I said, I felt the old juice come back, the stuff that invigorated me to begin with. I've even gone to town and sat in a bar with a Cosmo at hand and wrote like ... well, don't know. Didn't put that through "I Write Like."
Ah, yes, the maid. We all would like one of those.
You're most welcome!

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

As you know, our little Capricorn moons play havoc with that "good girl, responsible adult" thang! Yes, fear can drive us to do unimaginable things and cripple us at the same time. Be gone!
As to the experts, as I said, they have made a job of this and I don't blame them. We all have to make a living, and some do it for nothing but are trying to brand themselves (ouch). I agree, don't over-strategize when it gets in the way of the real work. I love knocking things off my list, but let's see if the list is even necessary first.
Thanks, as always!

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Patricia,
As you point out, we all love happy outcomes. Now if we could only be in Paris at a cafe, writing, or talking to our intellectual friends, and just being writers. I'm always amazed at your output as a blogger. And love what I read. But I'm with you--I'll always be pleasantly surprised when your email drops into my box and I'm invited to France again.
Thanks for stopping by!

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Karla, sweetie, for you blogging is your writing. That's why it works and isn't a time suck. What you're doing fits you, energizes you, gives you the vehicle to get out there with your marvelous ideas for being inspired and inventing self.
That's the test of whether you should be on any of this social media: if it gives you energy, it's the right thing to do. If it saps your energy and is a drudge, plus takes away from the writing, not so much.
I love what you're doing with your blog and that's what you want--readers who align with you, heart and soul.
Thanks for being one of those!

writingfeemail said... [Reply to comment]

Welcome back and congratulations on finishing your novel. I, like so many others, can identify only too well. It's another balancing act that we teeter on or fall off and feel depressed because we seem to be the only ones who can't do back flips on the bar. Oh well, you decided what was important and achieved your goal. And your readers are still here, waiting patiently for your eloquent return.

Vera said... [Reply to comment]

Just joined, Val..glad a friend suggested I read...same spot you are and now can't even write poetry which is my go to media when not writing bio-fiction! I like to blog but all the other stuff needs to go...at least for a while. Thanks, keep up the writing.

vera
http://itsaverathing.blogspot.com

antiwrite said... [Reply to comment]

Oh, I hear this one. For the first time in the past year, I have learnt that I can't throw myself headlong into more than one thing. I can try, of course, but things get squeezed and life falls apart a bit, and once I start patching my life back together the writing starts to suffer! If I'm 100% into 'thinking work' in my paid job I cannot immerse myself in writing. There just isn't enough space in my head. And so I'm learning (very slowly) that I can throw myself into writing (the way I need to) for two weeks. And then come back to it recharged three months later and get another chunk done. In fact the long, semi-forced absences allow me to see it a bit more clearly!

You seem to have found what works for you - and congrats on finishing the book!!

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Wow, make a gal feel all gushy why don't ya! Thank you. My readers keep me going and part of not blogging is losing touch with you. But I'm back and looking forward to what happens when I let myself loose of all the "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts."I'm at the coast again on writing retreat and all that time spent finishing the novel gave me a crash--just like anything you work on continuously--and now I'm back to revising the last one the editors sort of liked but wanted changes on. Now there's a decision to make, as usual, in our game. And my belief is I can write this baby even better than before but on my terms. Hope you're writing and enjoying this crazy journey! Stay true, stay authentic. That's the path.

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Welcome aboard, Vera! Please thank your friend for me. I just love when we band together and I sure hope you embrace the poetry again. I was just reading Dorianne Laux's collection "Facts About the Moon." One of her poems, "Sisters," starts this way:

Grainy ribbons of light
fell through the slats
of the homemade fort
where we lay hip to hip
on the flattened cardboard box,
staring up at nothing.

Poetry is medicine. Hope you can return to it.
Will check out your blog, too!

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

And I hear you! Absolutely. We're not all Type-As or only needing four hours sleep. (I need 7-8) Plus, we need to understand our cycles and how we work, not compare ourselves to others. There isn't enough space in our heads to carry this all, never mind have all that space so over-taxed and splintered that we can't remember our character's name when sit down to write. I've gone back to reading poetry for inspiration, magic and language. I'm reading more again instead of the tube. I'm taking it easy on myself and letting my mind travel to where it needs to go. And I'm being more observant and listening more instead of talking--and that's a big one for me!
A few blogs down the road, I'm going to tell a few stories about what I find works, a menu of lovely deserts to choose from, maybe with a little champagne thrown in. We can create a writing blooming writing life.
Thanks for stopping by. Love the "antiwrite."

Maureen said... [Reply to comment]

Congratulations on identifying the block to your writing and finishing your novel! And especially for having the courage to just say no to social media when it prevents you from following your passion. I continually receive requests to join this or that new social media group and I'm refusing them all. I'm involved where I want to be, and spend as much or as little time on social media as works for me. I wish more of us would take back the hours that belong to us.

Anne Schroeder said... [Reply to comment]

I'm so with you. Know the feeling of finishing a novel and having it restore the joy. Getting out of the maze reminds us that we're human, not cyber-rats.

And look--nobody died because you weren't online.

I tweet once or twice a day, Facebook, blog every week or whenever the fancy strikes. And my blogs are better because I don't feel pressured.

Kate O'Mara said... [Reply to comment]

Hi Val I happened to click through on a SheWrites link... this has been a lovely hour. Thank you for sharing your latest adventure. I must be on the verge of a break through or break down but I recognized the funk part of your story: Internet overload.
I liked the link to 'I write like'... I posted on fb, twitter & my blog ;)
Kate
http://whenkateblogs.blogspot.com/

Heidiwriter said... [Reply to comment]

Wow. That's where I seem to be. I'm not enthused about mornings (never really have been), but I can't get myself into the writing mode unless I have a deadline looming over my head. I beat myself up because I'm not one of those get-up-at-4-a.m. kind of writers. And yes, social networking/marketing does take a lot of time. Hmm. Great food for thought!

backcountrywriter said... [Reply to comment]

It's all your fault. Woke up at 5:30 this morning and have spent most of the next four hours trying to roundup a response to your blog (I write like Steven King with first sample and Dan Brown with the second--apparently like a man??) I pretty much stopped blogging last fall when I was coming toward the homestretch of my memoir. Only two followers even seemed to noticed. Adding insult to injury I posted this blog htpp://backcountrywriter.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/techbology-challenged two years ago including a post on SheWrites and didn't get a single response.
I'm beginning to wonder if social networking is just a passing fad except for a few supperstars and a few good friends.
Anyway, thanks for the post. I really do have to get to work now.

Julie said... [Reply to comment]

I'm not nearly as "connected" as you have been, Val, but your words hit right at my core. You've inspired me to do something similar and put other things on the back burner instead of my writing! Thanks!

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks so much, Maureen!
And good for you for refusing them all. We can now revise that old saying of "When I die I won't be saying I wished I done more housework."
Now it's "When I die I won't be saying I wished I'd joined more social internet sites."
I wish your wish, too. I do think it's starting to happen.
Val

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Anne,
Your blogs are the best! Authentic, passionate, interesting.
Love that: we're human, not cyber-rats.
And you're absolutely right! No one died because I wasn't online.
Amazing!
Thanks for stopping by!
Val

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Oh, yeah! Know that one--break through or break down. I'll be adding a bit about that on a future blog, when I offer ways to deal with social media, overload, and social media overload. I've been collecting ways that others have dealt with keeping their writing/passion as a priority, and I skip the time management stuff because it doesn't work so good with creative types--unless you work in an ad agency and you have to squeeze it out for deadline. Hope something there will address the "funk" part. Maybe getting funky is how to overcome that? I dance. Yes, I do. I actually get up, turn on the music, dance until I break a sweat, then sit back down and go to work. It clears my head and opens the channels.
We do what we have to do.
Hope "I write like..." gave you the results you wanted! I write like a man every time. Now what does that say? Hmmm.

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Heidi! Good to hear from you. Thanks for adding to this discussion. I know what you mean about mornings. I used to be a night owl, but time has changed all that and I had to adjust. Writing for me takes off when I sit down in my writing space and type one word. It's the effort of getting there. Once I'm there, I don't want to leave.
4 a.m.? Haven't seen it in ... can't remember. I envy those people, but not so much really. Hope my next blog on wrestling social networking to the mat helps everyone in some small way.
Val

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Hi CJ! My apologies. 5:30? Ack!
I'm willing myself to believe that my writing (I write like David Foster Wallace and Cory Doctorow when I wanted to write like Margaret Atwood, but I'm not complaining! And can we put that in a query letter? Hmm) will jump up a few notches without the noise of all the online networking. I'm saving that for when my book is published.
Don't feel bad about only two followers noticing your absence. I had a few people check in to see if I was okay or had dropped out, but many more wrote to say they were happy to have me back. Sometimes our blogs just get lost in everyone's overabundance of information and poof!
Now a book--that's a whole different deal. There's where the energy needs to go.
Thanks for stopping by and not making me feel like a fool out in the ether.
Val

Valerie Brooks said... [Reply to comment]

Julie, darlin', any time I can help a sister out with the writing, I feel that my life's purpose is being fulfilled. Thank you for letting me know.
hugs

Valorie Grace Hallinan said... [Reply to comment]

I'm really glad you are covering this topic, Valerie. There needs to be a discussion about this. Don't know if you saw the article in Newsweek about social media making us crazy!