Thursday, May 5, 2011

Social Networking: Powerful New Procrastination Drug of Choice for the Writer

The new conventional wisdom for the writer:  Social Networking is a Must.
You have to "build a platform."  Create the audience for your work.  If you're an unknown writer, you must tweet and Facebook and blog and link in.
In the past, my procrastination drug of choice:  Gaming *head dips in shame*.  It started innocently enough.  I had to check out Pirates Online before I let my kid play it.  But like so many things, a little was good, a lot was better.  My child quickly lost interest.  Me?  I played until my wrists hurt from clicking the mouse; played until my character was maxed out.  Then the power of the drug had worn off.  I needed something harder.
World of Warcraft ("WOW") was just what I needed.  Characters could go to level 85 (not the wimpy 50 of Pirates Online).  There were whole continents to explore, powers to learn, weapons to earn.  Ahh, that's the stuff.  Gaming heaven.
My family tried to reach me but I said "just one more battle."  Once in a dungeon I may not surface for over an hour.  My refrain was "it boosts my creativity" and it "helps me relax."
What I was really doing was procrastinating.  The longer I played, the longer I avoided looking at the dreaded white screen.  When playing, I didn't have to think about how I was going to get my characters of the precarious situations I'd put them in or worry about plot problems.  When gaming, I was on auto-pilot, closing out the world around me.  
But I was also silencing the world within.
With the help of my husband (my ever-present external wise man and knower of all that is Nat before Nat knows it) I realized that gaming didn't "relax" me.  If anything, it made me more tense.
And there was no enhancement of my own creativity.  Gaming impedes my creativity.  When you game, you enter a world someone else created.  It can be fun, but if you spend too long there, you're just closing off your own creative powers.
The pact was made within - no more gaming.  And it helped when I got my new MacBook because I just didn't load the games.  Out of sight, out of mind.
And creativity thrived.  Writing happened.  White screens were filled with words.  Not always great, wonderful, beautiful strings of words, but words.  I was writing again and living the life of a writer.  Every day, writing happened.  That's what being a writer is all about.
And then . . . Social Networking happened.
It is necessary.  Whether your book is acquired by a legacy publisher or you self-publish, you must self-promote and these days, to self-promote you must be engaged in the online conversation.  No question.
And it is valuable.  You learn a lot from the conversation.  
But oh, the seduction it holds for the OCD-type.  Tweeting, blogging, Facebooking, checking, reading, following threads, re-Tweeting.  Round and round it goes.  Loops and follow-backs and some Goodreads thrown in for fun.
You look up at the clock and it's noon and you haven't written a word on that novel or short story or poem.  After lunch you open the document and look at the empty white screen before you.  You look down and you've got 7800 words. That's the same number you had last week!  Where did the time go?
Hey, procrastination on the Social Network, now that would make a good blog post. . .

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