The Eye-Opening Task
This week I was looking at Chapter 10 in The Artist’s Way and I noticed a task that got my attention. The task was to write down a bad habit that keeps you from doing creative work. I came up with something in no time.
You know how some people got excited about Facebook in the beginning, used it a lot at first but then returned to normal life? Well I am not one of those people. I’m one of the ones that was sucked in from day one and remain as sucked in as ever. I have made changes since I first joined in 2008 though. I created a second “writer’s page” in 2011 and that is the page that sucks most of my time these days.
If I am home, I am on Facebook. I don’t do much there. I mostly lurk, read links, and post here and there. I could do what I do there in thirty minutes or less a day, but instead I am on for hours. It is always in my mind. It’s the excuse I use to take breaks from productive activities and to avoid doing things I ought to do.
Social Media Addiction
In a lot of ways it is like a drug. Sometimes it’s great. You read something that sparks a new connection or deepens an old one. You post something that a lot of people “like” and you realize they are rooting for you after all… at least enough to click the mouse. And other times it’s a bad trip. Someone posts something that makes you so angry/sad/jealous that you want to cuss someone out/cry like a baby/pull your hair out. Or worse still, the day ends and you realize you’ve basically gone nowhere and done nothing but read the same updates over and over. At the end of those days you hate yourself. You promise you’ll quit the Facebook drug, but morning comes and you just want to know, need to know if there are any new notifications. Then you see those tiny red numbers and it feels oh so good. Another day, another comment… you are hooked. (I so hope somebody reading this gets what I mean otherwise I may need some professional help.)
But I NEED It!
I tell myself I need to be on Facebook. As a writer I must network and build a following. This is true, but realistically I want to be known as a fiction writer. I don’t want you to love me, I want you to love my characters. No one talks about Stephenie Meyer, they talk about Edward, Jacob, and Bella. No one talks about Suzanne Collins, they talk about Katniss and Peeta. I use this networking excuse to waste my precious time. Time that I could be researching and planning my next book. Over the years that I’ve been writing novels, I find that my stories come to me over time if I am listening. The stories simply can’t get in if I don’t have room for them, if my mind is filled with the Facebook chatter of hundreds of (really great) people who don’t really know me at all.
I tell myself I need Facebook to stay connected to real life friends and family. This is true to an extent. I am far away from so many of the people I love dearly, but Facebook hasn’t necessarily helped that. In a lot of ways it keeps us from truly connecting. I don’t need to call my sister or my friend when I can read her timeline and know everything she’s been doing. I can also use my anger over that offensive political meme someone put up as an excuse to write them off.
I tell myself I need Facebook to feel like I belong. As I mentioned above my family and my best friends are far away. I love my community and I have some awesome friends here but I have a hard time letting them know it. It’s difficult to explain, but as much as I try, I can’t make room for all the people I want in my life and my heart. (I’m learning this may be an introvert thing.) My husband and my daughters get my complete devotion and then after that there seems to be limited space. But I do so long to be a part of something so I try to get that from Facebook. It has worked at times too. I belong to a group of spiritually minded women there and we have supported one another quite a lot over the last year or more. But when things happen and I share with my group, I can’t hear the joy or sympathy in their voices or receive the warming hugs. I type out my stuff and wait, alone.
Is It Serving You?
So I’m starting to question whether Facebook is still enhancing my life. I don’t plan to quit it, but my intuition is telling me to put it on the back burner. Let it simmer. Check on it now and then while I focus on living my life and doing my work. Doing this, I feel, will make room (and time) for creative ideas to flow and authentic relationships to arrive and grow.
What about you? Are there any bad habits keeping you from creative work or authentic relationships? Are you willing to let those habits go?