Why I’ll Never Unplug

Something you hear often across the interwebz in the writing world is writers who are mega overwhelmed by social media and ultimately choose to unplug for some period of time to recover or get their writing groove back on or whatever.  Sometimes it’s that they’re letting social media take over from writing.  Sometimes it’s just that they’ve over-extended themselves.

I confess I’m always left scratching my head at this.

Apart from the fact that some of these people are just not approaching social media the right way (dude, go get Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone and step away from the crazy making!), I simply CANNOT FATHOM unplugging from social media.

Why?

Because social media is my lifeline. 

I live in a small town.  I am not, in real life, a terribly social creature.  The older I get, the more introverted I become, such that hanging out with people tends to exhaust me.  I like doing it on a limited basis, with a small, select group of people, but I am NOT what you would call a social butterfly.  And absolutely no one I know here is a writer.  Which means that often when I go hang out with friends, I wind up sitting there like a bump on a log, eyes glazing over while I hear long and detailed accounts of battles with pink eye, the latest kid’s stomach virus, how school’s going for the kids, and the other detritus of Normal Life for Non-Writer People, and when I make efforts to talk about what’s going on with me (usually writing related), I am often shut down.  Not on purpose, not out of any kind of maliciousness or meanness, but just by sheer lack of understanding or interest.

I cannot tell you how isolated that often makes me feel.

This is, perhaps, the biggest reason I am in love with social media.  Because local doesn’t matter.  I have dozens, HUNDREDS of writer friends out there in the world.  People I can always talk to about my latest launch idea, or gripe about synopses, or squee about my latest review.  People who understand and GIVE A DAMN.  Which is not to say my RL friends DON’T, in fact, give a damn.  They just don’t get it.  Just like I don’t often get the kid thing because I don’t have kids (how anybody can tolerate toddler shrieking without an instant migraine is a deep mystery to me).  We are not in the same place for relating.

But with Twitter I can hop online at any hour of the day and troll through #MyWANA or #ROW80 or #amwriting and find other writers, both friends and strangers, who CAN relate and are happy to chat about whatever.  I can’t tell you how much I value being able to do that.  Because it illustrates to me each and every day that Kristen is right: We are not alone.

17 thoughts on “Why I’ll Never Unplug

  1. yes, I understand completely!!! I too am quite introverted and find it challenging to find others locally who have similar interests. It’s ironic that on social media I come across much more extroverted than I really am:) Also relate to overextending myself and having to step back a bit for awhile.

  2. Preach it! Social networking should never run the show…it should not be this giant flying circus that people need to get away from. If it is, then you’re doing it wrong. 😉

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  3. Exactly! On the surface, I’m pretty social and friendly, but deep down, not so much. There were two “receptions” while I was in Chicago which involved hors d’oeuvres and such. These events were supposed to last an hour and a half, but both times, I could be found sneaking out after about a half hour.

    I have two or three friends who seem to really care about my writing career, but the rest that know about it don’t really get it. And it’s really hard to write under a pen name for privacy because there are many people I would love to tell, but can’t because of the genre in which I write. So social media keeps me connected with other writers who understand. Kait, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Social media is so important for those of us who need to connect with like minded people.

  4. My online writer friends are my lifeline. They make me feel as though this path is possible and realistic. They also give some of the best advice I’ve ever heard. I think the trick–for most people–is finding a happy balance. I agree with you that reading We are Not Alone is a good step in the right direction.

    However….you rock it harder than just about anybody I know. You do a lot of things in a little bit of time. What’s more, you do it all well. That’s a talent not everybody has. 😀

  5. I know in my case, I was overextending myself with social media and needed a break, but I did miss it while I was gone. That’s why I took my time coming back. I didn’t want the same thing to happen again. Once you realize you have access to people who are interested and think about the same things you do, it’s impossible to let that go.

  6. I her ya screaming sister. When talking to my closest friends and family, I can see their eyes glaze over and watch them mentally check out when I say more than a couple of words about my writing. I watched my BF do it yesterday as I was explaining to her the story line for my next novel. But I think the reason some people feel they need to unplug is because they spend so much time responding, replying and promoting that it becomes all consuming. I, for one, have found that I have to limit my time on line. I actually set myself a scheduel; 1 hour in the morning. I’m weaning myself down to that…lol.

  7. Great post, K! Writerly social media buddies can be a LIFESAVER, that’s for sure. If I unplug, though, it’s not because I’m overwhelmed by social media; it’s because I need to get away from tweets, chats, and emails to actually focus. My best productivity happens when I’m unplugged. Not so good at the multi-tasking, I. 😉 At least not when it comes to writing!

  8. You’ve nailed it, Kait. I’ve met a few writer friends for a day or two in the flesh, but none of them live within hailing distance, so all my contact is online. I’m like Claire–I have to unplug to write (such a magpie–ooh, new tweet, ooh, new post, ooh, shiny!)–but I have to plug in to get and give encouragement, help, whine, celebrate. It is central, vital, and inspiring.

    Great post!

  9. I’m fortunate to have several very good writer friends through Warrior Writers Boot Camp, but even there it’s fewer than a dozen. Since I started paying attention to Twitter a few months ago I’ve developed some 1700 followers. No, they’re not all bosom buddies, but they all read at least an occasional tweet from me, and several have expressed real love and support through Twitter. I thank God Kristen kept kicking me until I got with this.

  10. While I am not a writer, I do belong to a large online community that uses Blender 3d (modeling software). So I can relate completely to needing to remain plugged in.

    It is the only place I can discuss my art, problems, latest improvements etc. RL friends and family have no frame of reference for what I am doing and getting the glazed eyes look gets so old after a while.

  11. Anyone whose only solution is to unplug has either made the wrong networking choices or doesn’t know how to prioritize their time.

  12. Kait,

    When I first started on social media, I think I was approaching it all wrong. And then I read Kristen’s advice, repented and reformed, and it’s a lot easier. It’s still a balancing act with other jobs and writing, but now, not only is social media part of the equation, but it also fuels me. The people I meet online are, like you said, wonderful lifelines. Reading their blogs, tweets, and comments inspires me, encourages me, and sometimes just plain ol’ cheers me up!

  13. I agree- I took a class from Kristin and it made social media so much easier! I need to get her book- maybe I’ll finally do that today (I think that line has been in several blog responses today) I’ve had to balance my RL and social media- but I do find a way to do both almost every day.

  14. how true! poor time management skills can waste your life away no matter what the reason.

  15. Joanna Aislinn

    I confess, Tweetdeck goes off for 30-60 minute stretches when I really want to stay focused on a piece I’m writing. It’s one way I prioritize. But…I so appreciate all my online friends and really enjoy connecting via Facebook, various loops, my blog (and theirs) and now Twitter, too. And how cool is it to feel like I can go almost anywhere in the world and ‘know’ someone? Like you, Kait, I can’t imagine unplugging either. Thanks for a nice post!

    Joanna Aislinn
    Dream. Believe. Strive. Achieve!
    NO MATTER WHY
    The Wild Rose Press
    http://www.joannaaislinn.com
    http://www.joannaaislinn.wordpress.com

  16. Seems that anyone practicing their art – in whatever form – is intrinsically a loner, and needs/wants quite specific companionship. With the fracturing of smaller communities into megapolises, or Stepford suburbs, that companionship is available globally through the interwebz … but you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run – it’s all in the timing!

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